The agreement calls for Ericsson to “evolve” Vodafone U.K.’s current network in London and southern England. That evolution is set to include the use of massive multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) antenna technology and carrier aggregation.
Massive MIMO uses enhanced antenna arrays to boost radio signal quality and network capacity. Carrier aggregation combines different wireless frequencies to increase capacity and throughput speeds.
Ericsson explained the deal includes technology trials, product validation, commercial deployments, and professional services.
The two firms also plan to work on a number of technology advances. These include current 4G LTE and plans for 5G standards; the use of new spectrum bands, including millimeter wave (mmWave); and distributed cloud and network slicing proof-of-concepts.
Vodafone is one of the world’s largest mobile operators. The company counts more than 400 million customers across networks in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia Pacific.
Ericsson’s recently unveiled 2017 Mobility Report predicts there will be 500 million 5G subscribers globally by 2022. Ericsson’s 2016 report had predicted 150 million 5G subscribers by 2021.
Glenn Laxdal, head of network products at Ericsson North America, told SDxCentral that virtualization technologies will be a key enabler for 5G deployments. Laxdal explained that software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) will be required to allocate resources for different 5G use cases.
“We see SDN and NFV as key enablers for 5G,” Laxdal said. “By creating a virtualized network, operators will enable the network to scale dynamically. SDN and NFV are key building blocks.”