SoftBank chooses Ericsson gear for standalone 5G network

By Robert Scammell

Japanese conglomerate SoftBank has chosen Swedish telecoms firm Ericsson to provide 5G equipment for its standalone 5G network.

SoftBank will use a swathe of Ericsson products to power its 5G core – the ‘brains’ of the network. The 5G core is dual-mode, which makes the technology compatible with architectures built on top of previous mobile generations, such as 4G and 3G – as well as a standalone 5G network.

In this case, SoftBank will use the technology for its standalone 5G network, which can provide more advanced capabilities because its software is cloud-based.

The Ericsson products are Cloud Packet Core, Ericsson Cloud Unified Data Management and Policy, as well as Ericsson NFVI.

The deal builds on previous agreements between the two firms. In May 2019 SoftBank selected Ericsson as its primary 5G radio access network vendor. It also marks another win for Ericsson in the region over embattled Chinese rival Huawei.

While Huawei has been subject to US trade sanctions, culminating in a UK ban from 2021, Ericsson has been quietly snapping up 5G contracts around the world. In April this year Ericsson won a deal with BT to provide its dual-mode 5G core. Ericsson is the only non-Chinese vendor active in China.

SoftBank builds on Ericsson partnership

SoftBank, one of the biggest mobile carriers in Japan, turned on its 5G network in Japan in March this year.

At launch, it demonstrated some of the use cases of 5G with augmented and virtual reality experiences and unveiled four 5G-ready smartphones. The increased speed and reliability of 5G, alongside reduced latency, are expected to accelerate emerging technologies such as driverless cars and remote surgery.

Keiichi Makizono, senior vice president and CIO of SoftBank, said: “Japan is a leading 5G telecom market and together with Ericsson we are building a new platform of innovation for the country. Under our new agreement, we will extend our long-term partnership and provide a high quality and future-proof platform enabling a new wave of innovation for Japanese society.”

Luca Orsini, head of Ericsson Japan, added: “Ericsson’s cloud-native dual-mode 5G Core provides the cutting-edge container-based microservice architecture that will help SoftBank to both develop new business models towards consumers, enterprise and industry partners as well as to move onto the next level of network operational efficiency.”


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