SAN JOSE – Mobile phone giant Ericsson (Stockholm) is making a push into wired access networks, trying to leverage its strength as the leading provider of cellular network gear. We talked with Ericsson CTO Ulf Ewaldsson on wired and wireless issues during a trip to San Francisco.
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 percent--twice 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.
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.