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Getting wired with Ericsson's CTO

Posted: 11 Jun 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:wired network? wireless network? edge routing?

Ericsson is making a push into wired access networks, trying to leverage its strength as the leading provider of cellular network gear. In an interview with EE Times, the mobile phone giant's CTO, Ulf Ewaldsson, talked candidly about wired and wireless issues.

EE Times: How did you come to the CTO job?

Ulf Ewaldsson: I've been the CTO just since February 1, after spending 22 years at Ericsson, the last five years heading the radio unit focused on base stations and mobility. Last year our mobile radio unit went from 32 percent of the global market to 38 percenttwice as big as our closest competitor, Huawei.

Now we hope to make gains in the Internet Protocol area. We made some bets a few years back on routers for packet networks connected to the mobile backhaul. We acquired Redback about five years ago and have been putting out products such as a smart services router with mobile intelligence last year.

EET: What sort of routers are you targeting and how are you leveraging your wireless products?

Ewaldsson: Our bet is on edge routing, the fastest growing segment, not core routing where we work with partners.

The evolved packet core in LTE creates a good position for building intelligence in radio network. Very few people know how much intelligence is in the radio network because it has to adapt constantly to movements of users and use patterns.

All that information can be coordinated with what routers can provide. We opened last year in Silicon Valley a smartphone lab to work with operators on devices, browsers and apps and how they impact radio and IP network performance.

EET: What are your goals as CTO?

Ewaldsson: It's early days for me in this job, but one of my big roles is tying all the big pieces together at a time when mobile is growing so much so we can make it a better experience. We believe smartphones are becoming 35-40 percent of all phones, and that is putting new requirements on networks where we see 15-fold data growth in next five years.

The complexity of the resulting networks requires more complex OSS [operations support systems]. We acquired Telecordia to help us work on that piece and the integration is going fine. We were declared the OSS leader after acquisition.

Ulf Ewaldsson

Ewaldsson One of my big roles is tying all the big pieces together at a time when mobile is growing so much so we can make it a better experience.

EET: What technologies does Ericsson need to acquire or own now?

Ewaldsson: That's a great question, and one I spend a lot of time on. On one hand there are technologies in software-defined networks [SDN] and OpenFlow where we will look to make smaller investments. SDN is becoming a bit hyped, but as routing becomes more virtualized these technologies will mean a lot for us. We have a vehicle to make minority investments, and a lot of that is U.S.-centric.

On Wi-Fi, small cells and ASICs
EET: What other technologies do you want?

Ewaldsson: We have already made one acquisition this year in February in WiFi with BelAir Networks. We are now working on integrating WiFi more deeply into our networks.

EET: Broadcom and others say 802.11ac will be the best technology for carrier WiFi

Ewaldsson: It could be. The high frequency band [5GHz for .11ac] has its pros and cons. [Making WiFi] carrier grade comes from how well it gets integrated into the cellular network for controlled handovers.

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