Ericsson Updates Existing Radios to 5G NR via Software

Ericsson is working on commercial software for radio and core networks that will enable operators to launch 5G on existing equipment with a software upgrade, beginning in the fourth quarter of 2018.

All radio products within the Ericsson Radio System delivered since 2015 will be able to support 5G New Radio (NR) capability through a remote software installation to enable fast migration to 5G in existing bands.

The 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) commercial software is based on the recently approved first 3GPP 5G NR standard.

Verizon, which is an Ericsson customer, has said that it can move from its pre-standard 5G fixed equipment to standardized equipment with a software upgrade. But there’s been some skepticism about this assertion. Today’s news seems to give credibility to Verizon’s claim.

Ericsson’s news today mentioned only that Swissom could launch 5G services more efficiently with its Ericsson Radio System products.

Joakim Sorelius, head of product area network systems at Ericsson, said in an email to SDxCentral: “This applies to more than 150 different radio variants in Ericsson Radio System that are active in more than 190 networks around the world. We do not single out any individual operators beyond Swisscom mentioned in the release.”

The software will also make it possible to have spectrum sharing with 4G and 5G carriers side-by-side in the same band and even with overlapping carriers. This will enable operators to invest in needed capacity in their 4G networks today and simultaneously have their equipment ready for 5G.

“In parallel, we are also introducing 5G commercial software for radio and core networks, which will enable operators to launch 5G networks in new spectrum from Q4 2018,” said Sorelius. “This software complements our already launched baseband and 5G radios.”

Street Macro

Ericsson also introduced a new category of radio products called Street Macro. It addresses the need of operators to grow in cities with limited available radio locations.

Sorelius explained that typically, operators build networks with Ericsson Radio System in different layers. They start with building a macro layer with mast and rooftop sites. Then, outdoor small cell radios can be used in a micro layer when more capacity is needed in dense areas. Finally, an indoor layer can be added to improve capacity and coverage inside buildings.

But operators in metropolitan areas want to increase their capacity even further. This “has been the driver for us to now introduce a new layer in this network model, which we call Street Macro,” said Sorelius.

“This is a new layer between the macro level on the rooftops and micro level on the ground.” These radios will be on building facades.