Ericsson signs 5-year C-band and 5G agreement with AT&T

Ericsson is officially a supplier for AT & T’s upcoming C-band deployment and 5G network expansion.

The two companies have already teamed up on 5G and have conducted multiple trials in mid-range frequencies in recent months. Verizon previously named Ericsson as a C-band vendor in a massive $ 8.3 billion 5G deal.

Now the Swedish provider has a new 5-year network agreement with AT&T that includes 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) technologies such as advanced antenna systems, advanced RAN coordination and carrier aggregation, as well that Cloud RAN down the line.

RELATED: AT&T Digs Into C-Band With Multiple Trials

AT&T is preparing to deploy the first slice of C-band spectrum, from which it has acquired 40 megahertz, which is expected to be ready for use in December. The midband is often referred to as the sweet spot for providing both coverage and capacity for 5G services. Initially, AT&T targeted existing sites to deploy the higher capacity spectrum.

As part of the deal, Ericsson supports AT & T’s plan to reach 70-75 million people with 5G using C-band (in the 3.7 GHz range) by the end of 2022 and extension to 200 million people by the end of 2023. Financial terms were not disclosed. AT&T said it expects to invest between $ 6 billion and $ 8 billion for C-band deployment over the next few years.

Ericsson described its Fronthaul gateway as enabling a centralized RAN architecture, enabling more efficient transport by converting the fronthaul interface to an enhanced Common Public Radio Interface (eCPRI) packet.

RELATED: Ericsson Launches New Open Lab for 5G vRAN

Ericsson’s Advanced Antenna System (AAS) provides extended coverage and performance gains, with an antenna array tightly integrated into hardware and software. It uses multi-antenna techniques such as beamforming and MIMO.

The 5G carrier aggregation and advanced RAN coordination product targets more than C-band, with the goal of maximizing coverage, capacity, and latency for both mid-band and high-band deployments.

“As we continue to expand our 5G network nationwide, Ericsson’s 5G technology offerings and expertise will help evolve our network,” said Scott Mair, president of AT&T Network Engineering and Operations. , in a press release. “This latest agreement allows us to deploy Ericsson’s next-generation centralized RAN architecture, powered by Fronthaul Gateway, with the ability to support future network enhancements, such as the move to Cloud RAN.

RELATED: Ericsson Boosts Massive MIMO Lineup With Smaller Radio

AT&T also plans to use Ericsson’s Cloud Link software, according to an Ericsson spokesperson. Cloud Link was introduced in June and supports the use of carrier aggregation and other technologies in disaggregated and legacy infrastructures.

Regarding new network architectures, Stefan Pongratz, vice president of Dell’Oro group, said that in general, operators are currently exploring three high-level avenues. This includes C-RAN (Centralized RAN), vRAN (Virtualized RAN) and Open RAN (O-RAN) “to address the supply and demand factors that continue to characterize this market.”

“Although the overlap is more limited between these architectures now in the initial phase, we expect this overlap ratio to evolve over time,” Pongratz told Fierce. “And clearly, some operators are more aggressive than others when it comes to implementing various architectures.”

Ericsson first introduced Cloud RAN in 2020, breaking down hardware and software as the vendor began taking steps to bring it closer to its competitors (like Nokia and Samsung) who were already moving towards O-compatible equipment. -RAN.

RELATED: Ericsson CEO Sees O-RAN as Key to 6G

This summer, it marked a key milestone in adding support for mid-band spectrum and Massive MIMO for the 5G RAN cloud. The mid-band spectrum has wider channels than the low-band, and massive MIMO is considered an important technology for the C-band, with a larger number of antennas (typically 64T64R or 32T32R) generating a lot of data.

Per Narvinger, Head of Product Area Networks at Ericsson told Fierce that an important step was to show that RAN cloud software could handle all of this data from midband and Massive MIMO in a general purpose server. .

AT&T has announced plans to introduce O-RAN-based elements into its 5G network, with hardware features already deployed and software component testing underway. It also performed C-band testing with Nokia, which is committed to delivering O-RAN compliant products. Besides Ericsson, Verizon uses Samsung for the C band and deploys a virtualized RAN architecture (vRAN) with the platforms of the South Korean provider.

RELATED: AT&T Can Fine-Tune Network With Open RAN – Elbaz

In January, Ericsson signed a 5-year 5G network agreement with T-Mobile, an operator that has arguably been less enthusiastic about implementing open RAN.

Beyond consumers, Ericsson’s C-Band announcement said it will help AT&T bring 5G to businesses, first responders and industries, such as 5G in sports venues, entertainment, travel and transport.

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