AT&T throws its weight behind Ericsson’s 5G Startup Program

5G network digital and internet of things on city background.5G network wireless system Concept.

US MNO AT&T has joined Swedish kit vendor Ericsson’s 5G Startup Program, which claims to help operators make more money out of 5G.

Ericsson says its 5G Startup Program is designed to introduce communication service providers to consumer innovation companies and assist them with strategies that allow them to get a decent slice of the 5G pie, which it estimates will be worth $3.7 trillion globally by 2030.

The project seems to describe a collaborative collective of companies looking to drive innovation in 5G, or at least make the most of the opportunities around it, and Ericsson says it plugs into wider sectors such as entertainment, media, gaming, sports, and education. This is all apparently built on Ericsson’s ConsumerLab research and analytical data, and a network it has accrued of over 50 5G startups.

“AT&T customers are already enjoying the benefits of our 5G network, with fast speeds, low latency and superior reliability,” said Jay Cary, VP of 5G Product and Innovation at AT&. “ Now, the network we’ve built is ready to take on more social and immersive experiences that will transform how we live, work and play. Tapping into Ericsson’s ConsumerLab and its deep catalogue of companies and innovative ideas could help us bring new experiences to life using technology like AR and VR across a variety of interests, including travel and sports.”

Jasmeet Sethi, Head of ConsumerLab at Ericsson Research added: ”With access to more than 40 global startups, the program offers AT&T a unique opportunity to not only leverage actionable consumer insights from our Ericsson Research Analytical Platform but also connect with innovation partners to emerge, on top of their existing initiatives and programs.”

As 5G and full fibre networks are rolled out, there have been some public grumblings from telco firms that despite bankrolling and physically building the new infrastructure that enables next gen internet connectivity, they are not the ones seeing the bulk of the financial benefit. So while OTT service providers and big tech – which in particular is making astonishing sums of money from cloud services and platforms –  get rich, the growth opportunities for an operator building out its 5G network for example doesn’t always looks so juicy.

It’s in this context this collaborative programme from Ericsson can perhaps be seen – and despite whatever self-interest is understandably and inevitably baked in, it does feel like more of an entrepreneurial approach to the issue than, say, lobbying the EU to make Google and Amazon dump some cash on the telco sector.

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