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Bouygues taps Ericsson for 5G SA core

AI

France’s Bouygues Telecom aims to unlock a whole host of advanced 5G use cases with the deployment of an Ericsson 5G standalone (SA) core network.

Once up and running, the operator will be in a position to offer mobile services that make greater use of AI, extended reality (XR), and automation, said Ericsson when the deal was announced late last week. It will also support network slicing, enabling Bouygues to tailor the performance of individual virtual 5G networks to the differing requirements of its customers.

The Swedish kit maker said Bouygues’ entire customer base, from individual consumers to large enterprises, will benefit from the upgrade. To be more specific though, Ericsson suggests customers in the industrial, logistics, smart transport, events and healthcare sectors are particularly likely to reap the rewards.

Bouygues stole incumbent Orange’s thunder somewhat back in December 2020, when it became the first operator in France to offer 5G, using Ericsson’s RAN equipment. At the time, it said it planned to offer 5G SA services during 2023. Bouygues reiterated this target last Friday, adding that availability is on track for the early part of next year.

“This agreement with Ericsson, a long-standing partner, heralds the implementation of a key step for Bouygues Telecom in the deployment of 5G,” said Bouygues Telecom CEO Benoît Torloting, in a statement. “This 5G standalone core network will enable us to offer our consumer and enterprise customers the best of technology from 2023 on. Bouygues Telecom is proud to support them in their digital transition with the quality and security of its network.”

Aforementioned Orange is also pushing hard on 5G SA though, which will provide some stiff competition for Bouygues. In February, Orange whittled its list of no fewer than six 5G SA technology partners down to three, that between them will cover its European markets. Ericsson and Nokia share various countries, while Oracle will provide signalling and routing across Orange’s entire footprint. Nokia bagged France, and a report almost 12 months ago to the day by French tech outlet 01Net said Orange plans to launch 5G standalone in its home market to business customers this year, and consumers next year.

Meanwhile, Ericsson has also been getting even more excited – if that’s possible – about network slicing.

Last Thursday, it shared details of a network slicing demonstration in Italy with incumbent operator TIM and robotics specialist Comau. The aim was to show off some of the Industry 4.0 applications of network slicing and how the technology can help to usher in the so-called ‘factory of the future’.

Ericsson was at it again last Friday, announcing a successful 5G enterprise network slicing test with Qualcomm and smartphone maker OPPO. The test used an off-the-shelf smartphone running on Android 12 – which has network slicing support baked into the operating system – to show how different applications could connect to different slices on the same device.

While it was a lab test rather than full-on live trial, it nonetheless shows how slicing could be useful not just for optimising the performance of different enterprise apps, but also for setting policies that manage employee access to different apps and data.

“5G network slicing enables enterprises to meet their network security, reliability and flexibility needs,” said a statement from Monica Zethzon, who heads up the packet core team at Ericsson’s Cloud Software and Services division. “This solution, created in partnership with OPPO and Qualcomm and underpinned by Ericsson’s dual-mode 5G core and 5G RAN slicing technologies, provides a foundation for CSPs to deliver more tailored 5G services for enterprises.”

 

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