As MWC 2024 kicks off in Barcelona, we caught up with Ericsson to go over its recent raft of announcements, and how something like network slicing can be marketed to a consumer audience.

Andrew Wooden

February 26, 2024

5 Min Read

Ericsson held a pre-MWC event in central London a couple of weeks ago, at which the assembled execs all seemed keen to stress how much more complicated the process of extracting returns on 5G investments is than from previous generations. It also made its raft of big announcements there as a primer to the show this week.

We caught up with Youssef Lotayef, Head of Strategy and Portfolio for the Cloud Software and Services Business at Ericsson (pictured) to talk about the significance of the launches.

“From our business perspective, the big, big launch was the Ericsson service orchestration and assurance, which is basically back to the slicing concept and how do I really create services in a dynamic and adaptable way into the network. And then we had a couple of launches, one in our managed services around our intent based operation, which is how do I start driving intent across the different layers of my stack? So instead of describing or aiming for a KPI I describe a user experience. So I want this to happen, and then the network starts to translate that into what features it needs.

“And then we have a launch as well around our AI business which is in our cognitive network solution, where we're helping operators understand how to leverage AI effectively in that space. So those are kind of the three big launches from the BCSS side and then from our colleagues and networks it's more a concentrated launch around their entire radio portfolio, an enhanced radio portfolio, but that includes a lot of connections into Intel in different parts of the ecosystem, moving more into open networks.”

Network slicing – which has long been held up as a key component of 5G, but usually in a b2b sense – is presented as one of the future opportunities that all these launches might help enable. Many firms are now talking about it in a consumer sense now as well.  

“We’ve spoken about slicing for quite some time. We've invested a lot in slicing in the radio. We've invested a lot in slicing in the core, but how do I access these type of capabilities if I don't have a service orchestrator? How do I make sure the slices are connected to a service which I can then charge for? How do I make sure that I drive the right level of performance in those slices to meet my needs? So the end story is about starting to connect the dots into how do I create a more end to end story, which is not just the bit pipe? How do I create differentiated services in the bit pipe?

“Part of what we're describing at this Mobile World Congress is also differentiated service classes. So we're trying to simplify the service classes into a bunch of use cases, and then use the orchestrator to enable the access to these different service classes for given subscribers. And then of course the industry will move at different paces. I don't I don't think we will be in a paradigm of dynamic slices in the next 6 to 12 months. There will be more static slices that you allocate both resources and individuals are subscribers to in initially a fairly static way.

“And then you allocate in a fairly dynamic way, potentially through an API, that you can move subscribers between the different slices or the different experiences. And then, at some point in the future, you can potentially get all the way to a dynamic slice where you have a slice that can adapt and evolve based on requirements.  Our vision of the industry is all going to be done through the service orchestrator, that's kind of the Nexus and the brains of that service layer.”

When asked about the potential difficulty in marketing things like network slices to a wide consumer customer base as opposed to more bespoke B2B deployments, Lotayef said:

“This is why it's so important to connect it to the user experience. And also ultimately to the use case. XR requires low latency and high uplink. So as a user, I don't really care that I'm on slice. But as a user, I want the good user experience, so that XR device is attached to a slice that has those characteristics. I don't need to understand the mechanics of the slice. I just need to understand that I'm getting the experience I need for the XR device to work right.

“And that's come up in some of our customer conversations as well. I mean, if my user experience is not good enough now, and we've gotten the industry so used to best effort, mobile broadband, best effort for all, I think this is the shift that we need to go on. What are the right ingresses for this monetization opportunity that comes on top? And I think that's where you need, a bit of a revolutionary use case where you can articulate that this is fundamentally using the network in a different way.

“But I think to your point, there's going to need to be a smart way of articulating the value prop on top of the existing mobile broadband. And I think this is a bit the journey as an industry we're going on. I think with API's and those types of capabilities, we will expose a different way to access the network capability, which will be one way of realizing that potential, so it's not it's not immediately a high volume business, but you can start to see that if I use these API's, I can get this different type of service or I can get different network capabilities than I'm used to. And that has a value.”

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MWC 2024

About the Author(s)

Andrew Wooden

Andrew joins on the back of an extensive career in tech journalism and content strategy.

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