Ericsson tries to put a brave face on the MWC catastrophe

Networking vendor Ericsson decided to press ahead with its pre-MWC briefing but couldn’t avoid addressing the elephant in the room.

Head of marketing Stella Medlicott wasted no time in reflecting on the cancellation of the show and on Ericsson’s pre-emptive decision to bail out last week. Apparently the Ericsson stand had over 10,000 visitors last year and they reckoned the risk, although low, of all those people passing Coronavirus between them was too great. We were told the decision shocked a lot of people within the company, but it had to be done.

We then heard from head of networks Fredrik Jejdling (pictured), who offered an update on the state of play with 5G. Unsurprisingly he announced that 2020 is all about scaling up for 5G, with subscriptions expected to jump from 13 million to 100 million, much of which will be driven by China. Ericsson itself now has 81 5G commercial agreements with 49 customers and 25 live 5G networks worldwide.

Why these 87 million people will decide 5G is such a great idea, however, remains unclear. On the consumer side Jejdling referred to good old gaming and VR/AR, but there’s still little sign of the eagerly-awaited surge in demand for that stuff. The B2B case for 5G right now is stronger, with smart factories, private networks and that sort of thing achieving some traction, or so we were told.

There was a brief part of the presentation devoted to ‘beyond 5G’, but sadly the number 6 failed to make an appearance. In the Q&A Ericsson was asked why it’s 18 months behind Huawei on 5G and responded that it’s not. Jejdling was then asked if Ericsson was only a member of the ORAN alliance in order to undermine it. He responded in the negative, while at the same time stressing that ORAN isn’t much use right now.

Other than that there was the usual flurry of press releases, originally intended to beat the MWC rush, but now in danger of getting in each others’ way. The fun one was Ericsson’s claim to have broken the 5G speed record by clocking up 4.3Gbps over 800MHz of millimetre wave spectrum, which is nice. Other than that there were some new bits of Ericson’s 5G core, an AI boost to its network services offering and an Austrian IoT deal win.

Through no fault of Ericsson’s (although it could be argued they were the first major domino to fall) the cancellation of MWC made its preview event feel a bit flat. Nothing has actually changed of course, deals will still get done and stories written, but it was hard to get excited about networky stuff when the industry networking event of the year had just been taken from us.


UPDATE, 11:00 14 Feb 2020 – We reported that ‘Ericsson itself now has 81 5G commercial agreements with 49 customers and 25 live 5G networks worldwide.’ Those datapoints should have been qualified as follows: 81 commercial 5G agreements and 24 live 5G networks worldwide. 49 5G Core commercial contracts and 25 live 5G Cores. Apologies for any confusion caused. Ericsson has also publicly announced 35 5G contracts.

Tags: , ,
  • Private Networks in a 5G World

  • 5G Networking Digital Symposium

  • LIVE: Getting the Best out of 5G

  • 5G Ecosystem Digital Symposium

  • 2020 Vision Executive Summit

  • TechXLR8

  • BIG 5G Event

  • 5G World

  • 5G Latin America


  1. Avatar Ted Hermans 14/02/2020 @ 2:08 am

    Weak story from your side dear Would be interesting to hear your views on 5G and private networks, smart factories and that sort of thing because they do seem to start getting momentum. Are you just annoyed you can’t go to MWC now?

  2. Avatar Anand 14/02/2020 @ 5:47 am

    Post sounds like the author is angry at Ericcson for denying him a paid trip to MWC. Every single para seems to be abt Ericcson pulling our fron MWC.

    The title is actually for the author. Author is trying his best to stay relevant inspite of the cancellation and has nothing to write abt. I dont find one single fact to support the title from the article.

  3. Avatar Benson Royston 14/02/2020 @ 6:42 am

    If America had not played this dirty game towards Huawei, Ericsson don’t stand any chance against this Chinese giant in 5G. But the real loser is America and Donald Duck Trump

  4. Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 14/02/2020 @ 7:44 am

    Great feedback guys, I can learn so much from you.

  5. Avatar Johannes 14/02/2020 @ 10:25 am

    Could you elaborate on the point about Ericsson’s 5G customers? How does the number mentioned, 49, compare to others, like Huawei and Nokia? That number is somewhat fishy and more along the lines Ericsson had last fall, when they suddenly pumped from around 30 to over 70.

  6. Avatar Jbrian 14/02/2020 @ 10:40 am

    “81 5G commercial agreements with 49 customers and 25 live 5G networks worldwide”

    According to the article the number is 81 5G contracts. Presumable there are contracts with multiple OPCOs of same customer, hence 81 contracts with 49 customers.

  7. Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 14/02/2020 @ 11:11 am

    I have put an update at the bottom of the story. The 49 figure referred to 5G core contracts/customers.

  8. Avatar Michael Ferris 14/02/2020 @ 3:59 pm

    You guys need to get a life. The great thing about reporting style is that it successfully marries informative reporting with an entertaining narrative. Others are bland by comparison.

  9. Avatar Boban 15/02/2020 @ 11:45 am

    You probably wrote this article in five minutes. No real substance, just words and claims unsupported with facts. And you managed to mess up the only two numbers in the article. It is not called “journalism” when you only write personal biased opinions and grudges.

    Ericsson !!!

  10. Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 15/02/2020 @ 1:41 pm

    Turns out Ericsson fanboys are just as sensitive as Nokia ones. LOL

    • Avatar Boban 16/02/2020 @ 6:34 am

      Ericsson fanboys prefer reading facts. Not opinions of a grumpy, attention-seeking, middle-aged kid.

      • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 16/02/2020 @ 10:08 am

        I rest my case.

  11. Avatar Mario Penners 15/02/2020 @ 7:49 pm

    Besides this article being somewhat an Ericsson bashing, I miss real information, what is this about , reciting other press statements?
    The decision to skip MWC is not an Ericsson decision, but a reasonable one.
    The fact that consumers wont be the first driving factor for 5G, but industrial connectivity and users who actually need the offered features, that came a bit too short here, for my taste.

    I think the author has neither understood what 5G in 2020 is about, nor does he seem to understand much about how the deployment of this technology is going to work and be monetized.
    A pretty weak article, not to be read as a statement for anything….

  12. Avatar WeiHua 16/02/2020 @ 9:10 am

    Seems like SOMEBODY’s trying to put a brave face (other than Ericsson). Why don’t you just setup your own MWC event? Maybe you can spend the money sponsored from that Chinese company 😉 Wuhan would be a wonderful location. I heard it’s quite vacant these days.

  13. Avatar Joshua 16/02/2020 @ 9:17 am

    Are you saying all the other companies who followed Ericsson to not participate MWC later are just mindless sheep? NVIDIA, Intel, NTT Docomo, SK Telecom, Nokia, Amazon, ZTE, and Sony all just Ericsson’s minions without their own opinion? Because you’ve just meant that indirectly through this article.

    • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 16/02/2020 @ 10:10 am

      Thanks for telling me what I meant Josh.

      • Avatar Joshua 18/02/2020 @ 2:32 am

        No problem. Maybe you should consider switching careers. The “first major domino to fall” wasn’t Ericsson, it was LG. Although I doubt you cared about facts in the first place…

        • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 18/02/2020 @ 9:09 am

          No, I’m just too damn good at this.

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