AT&T and Ericsson Forge $14B Path to U.S. 5G Future with Open RAN

AT&T booth

AT&T has revealed an ambitious project to lead the United States in the commercial adoption of open radio access networks (Open RAN), marking a big step forward for the telecom industry. This innovative project, carried out in collaboration with Ericsson, would represent a significant advancement in the industry’s quest for a more resilient and diverse network infrastructure environment.

AT&T has committed a significant amount of money to this project. Estimates indicate that they will work with Ericsson to spend over $14 billion over the course of five years. This investment highlights the importance and scope of the project.

The objective of shifting 70% of its wireless network traffic to platforms with open capabilities by the end of 2026 is a key component of AT&T‘s plan. In cooperation with Ericsson and Fujitsu, the company plans to start integrating fully functional open RAN sites in 2024. It is anticipated that this move away from conventional closed proprietary interfaces would make it easier to scale and manage hardware from different manufacturers at each cell site.

Beginning in 2025, AT&T intends to extend an open RAN environment across its wireless network in collaboration with several partners, such as Intel, Dell Technologies, Ericsson, Fujitsu, and Corning Incorporated.

5G Connectivity Across the US

At a pivotal point in the development of 5G technology, AT&T and Ericsson have committed to the cooperative deployment of Open RAN. By making the transition to an open, adaptable, and programmable wireless network, AT&T is putting itself in a position to quickly take advantage of the next generation of wireless technologies and improvements in spectrum. The creation of sustainable, lower-power networks with improved user experiences and increased performance is one of the expected results. Because to Ericsson’s open design, the U.S. wireless equipment market is expected to see modernization and increased competition, attracting new suppliers and acting as a catalyst and platform for continuous innovation.

According to AT&T, more competition in the US RAN market will spur efficiency improvements and innovation. Deploying open hardware, switching to cloud RAN, and integrating third-party radios are all part of the Open RAN pledge, which will increase equipment selection options, lower network costs, and boost operational efficiency. It is anticipated that AT&T’s progressive approach to network building would bolster the company’s ongoing investment in its quickly growing broadband network.

AT&T Network Executive Vice President Chris Sambar emphasizes the company’s pioneering role in open platform sourcing inside the cellular network industry. He emphasizes how the collaboration has the ability to transform radio access networks, stimulate competition, innovate, and expand fiber and 5G connectivity across the United States. The fact that Ericsson supports AT&T’s Open RAN goal is seen as a strong testament to the project’s potential.

Open Interfaces and APIs

The excitement around this industry change is echoed by Börje Ekholm, President and CEO of Ericsson, who highlights the importance of high-performance, specialized networks as the foundation of the next stage of digitalization. He highlights the opportunity for operators to come up with creative methods to monetize the network, as well as the exciting possibilities of new performance-based business models arising from open interfaces and APIs. Ekholm is proud of Ericsson and AT&T‘s collaboration in bringing Open RAN to market and boosting digital transformation in the United States.

Ericsson’s use of its highly automated 5G Smart Factory in Lewisville, Texas, for the production of 5G equipment under this contract, is a crucial part of this partnership. This cutting-edge factory, which was recently expanded and runs only on renewable energy, is evidence of Ericsson’s dedication to domestic and sustainable manufacturing methods in compliance with the infrastructure rules known as ‘Build America, Buy America.’

AT&T sees its support for Open RAN as a critical element of its larger plan, since it is one of the biggest infrastructure investors in the US for both wireless and broadband fiber. The firm wants to have a cutting-edge, competitive wireless network and be the biggest and fastest-growing integrated fiber organization. With this new partnership with Ericsson, AT&T would be able to further strengthen its position as a supplier of dependable 5G connectivity while also improving its wireless network in North America. According to reports, the amount expected to be spent under the Ericsson deal is less than what AT&T plans to spend on capital expenses related to wireless over the next five years. Because fiber and wireless infrastructure are linked, and because customers are demanding more from a single connection provider for both fixed internet and cellular, AT&T believes there are promising prospects to enhance its fiber footprint in the near future.