The shift to 5G: innovative capabilities to extend far beyond previous generations

08 January 2020

If you visited GITEX in Dubai back in October, you would have seen first-hand just how quickly technology is moving and changing the way we live. There was a flying motorcycle and other incredible technological advances that caught the eye of visitors and global media outlets.

The Ericsson booth was, unashamedly, a tribute to 5G. From the immersive sports demo to remote operation of vehicles, VR football, telemedicine and 5G connected music, healthcare and gaming, Ericsson’s booth welcomed a sea of people excited to know more about our 5G future.

Journalists, analysts, consumers and Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum stopped to check out technologies that were unimaginable in the past and are now at our fingertips.

But why is all the emphasis on 5G when it seems like a distant dream for most countries?

There is a push for 5G deployment in order to enhance both the consumer and enterprise experience. It is a technology which can enable millions of different use cases. Some of the use cases will be immensely beneficial to society, not even in the future, but already now. When you think about efficiently connected healthcare, it is positioned to make a positive impact in people’s lives.  These are all experiences enabled by the high throughput and low latency of 5G that none of its predecessors have been able to achieve.

With the growing demand from consumers, industry and IoT for mobile communications, service providers today are focusing on improving the performance and efficiency of 4G networks, while supporting their digital journey towards 5G.

We, at Ericsson, support service providers with three key goals: secure relentless efficiency, enhance customer experience and open new revenue streams while providing consumers with more cost-efficient services.

Our main aim is to help service providers maintain their networks with the latest technology so they can benefit from all that advanced technology offers and provide their customers the best mobile broadband experience available.  5G, Cloud Native and automation will be necessary to our customers, in their pursuit for relentless efficiency and optimal end-user experience in mobile broadband.

It is important to note that 5G is not just a technology shift, it is an innovation platform that will accelerate the development of countless use cases. There is no doubt that similar to global consumers, African population also share the great desire for fast speeds and unique use cases the next generation of mobile wireless is poised to deliver, and this poses a great opportunity to grab.

Talking about the future, we’re at a critical time for 5G as selected markets roll out their 5G networks and early adopters get their hands on the first 5G-enabled devices. What operators need now is to enhance their networks to pave the way for 5G deployment – which will help them migrate to 5G in their own time and in alignment with their business needs.

Ericsson’s GITEX booth welcomed a sea of people excited to know more about our 5G future (Photo:

Ericsson’s GITEX booth welcomed a sea of people excited to know more about our 5G future (Photo:

A frequently asked question is – Will increased bandwidth mean poor coverage?

The answer is simple. At the end of the day, 5G in itself is a tech shift. Coverage and bandwidth is something that each service provider really needs to plan, design and optimize, so it’s not inherent that if you have one it will result in another. Like any other technology shift, 5G requires strong planning and implementation and this is an important factor to be considered for any operator.

It is ideal to formulate use cases first and then talk about the network, bandwidth or other aspects of planning that go into developing a successful strategy and ensuring a timely rollout and improved customer experience.

I know a lot of people will wonder how operators in Africa will make a good business case when so many consumers live on very low incomes. It’s important to remember that 5G isn’t just a consumer technology. Yes, 5G will offer lower latency, higher throughput and an enhanced mobile broadband experience for the consumer – helping to meet the mobile data demands of tomorrow. But it will also help bring to light new business opportunities not addressed today.

In fact, the benefit to the end-consumer doesn’t end there. Service providers will be able to address new value chains and revenue streams in the digitalization of industries.

This is where you get effective use cases in the areas of mobile healthcare. Or think about manufacturing or oil and gas, a lot of these industries can benefit from making decisions on the fly and facilitate greater benefits for the society at large. Although enhanced mobile broadband is the first “high profile” use case for 5G, these are just some of the opportunities emerging from the digitalization of industries.

At the core of all this innovation is a singular idea – that ICT has the power to transform society. It plays a key role in each of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, providing the infrastructure needed to achieve them. It also enables financial inclusion through m-commerce and allows people to connect with millions instantaneously.

What’s more. Ericsson is working hard to bust myth around healthcare issues associated with 5G. It is important to note that independent expert organizations have established the exposure limits for radio waves based on many years of research. The limits are recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), among others, and include large safety margins. 5G equipment, whether it be mobile devices or base stations, will meet the same safety standards as the equipment used in previous mobile communication networks.

So, are we all ready?

I can certainly speak for Ericsson and globally, Ericsson is currently supporting 19 5G live networks across 4 continents. All those networks use Ericsson Radio, Ericsson Core, or both. In the Middle East and Africa alone, we’ve announced four contracts so far. When it comes to Africa, we support our customers with the same commitment and passion in their journeys, providing them with flexible options to transition forward in the best way that suits them and their consumer.


By Lucky La Riccia, head of digital services at Ericsson