Communications technology and services and global service provider Ericsson is working with the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI, 工研院) in an effort to help Taiwan delve into next-generation wireless technology, or 5G, a company executive said yesterday.
Ericsson, a member of Mobile and wireless communications Enablers for the 2020 Information Society (METIS), has exchanged views about 5G technology development with ITRI, allowing the government-funded organization indirect access to Europe’s 5G development, Ericsson Taiwan president Philip Tseng (曾詩淵) said.
The METIS research project is co-funded by the EU for the main objective of laying the foundation for 5G mobile and wireless communications networks for the year 2020 and beyond.
“We hope to provide some aid to Taiwan in upgrading to 5G networks via its government-sponsored ITRI at a time when the standards for 5G technology are being formed,” Tseng said at a media briefing.
Taiwan has to improve efforts to develop a 5G network to catch up with rivals, or the nation will lag even further behind in developing new mobile technologies, since it has fallen behind most developed countries in its commercial launch of 4G long-term evolution (LTE) service, Tseng said.
South Korea aims to roll out the world’s first 5G service in 2018, when the Winter Olympic Games take place in Pyeongchang, South Korea, he said.
Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信), the nation’s largest telecom company, aims to debut 4G services in July.
The government auctioned 4G bandwidth in October last year, after the WiMAX technology it backed failed to lead the race for 4G adoption.
Tseng dismissed speculation that the Swedish firm intended to help ITRI gain METIS membership, saying that METIS has been operating quite well with its current members for a while, possibly implying that it did not plan to accept new membership applications.
Founded in November 2012, METIS is a consortium of 29 partners representing telecommunications manufacturers, network operators, the automotive industry and academia.
Ericsson also said it has no plan to set up a 5G laboratory in Taiwan at the moment. The company last month said it had launched the Kista 5G Transport Lab with two partners to enable the potential 5G transport network to deliver near-ubiquitous connectivity and serve as a platform for service innovation.
However, Ericsson, which is transforming into a software provider, hopes to build deeper cooperation with local firms in the future by leveraging the strengths of Taiwanese hardware manufacturers, Tseng said.
“Taiwanese hardware device manufacturers have a better chance to seize the business opportunities of Internet-enabled mobile devices than any firms in the world,” he said.
Ericsson said that it expected that the global market of devices connected to the Internet would grow to 50 billion units in 2020.
According to the company’s latest survey, Taiwan’s downlink throughput ranked No. 24 in the world’s top 50 smartphone markets in the fourth quarter of last year, with an average of 3.5 megabytes per second. The rate is lower than the world’s average 4.4MB per second due to the lack of a 4G network.
Among Asian countries and territories, Singapore ranked No. 4 and South Korea seized the No. 5 spot, while Hong Kong and Japan were ranked No. 11 and No. 15, according to the survey.
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