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Ericsson and NBN Co Expand Strategic Partnership

Ericsson and Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN Co), have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that will open pathways for greater collaboration in research, development, and innovation of fixed wireless telecommunications technologies.

The agreement was announced in Barcelona at the GSMA’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2023, as both Ericsson and nbn reconfirmed their mutual commitment to the mission of enabling greater connectivity for all Australians.

One of the first initiatives to be delivered under the terms of the MoU will see nbn become the first operator to deploy Ericsson’s extended range mmWave functionality – offering current capability up to a range of 6.9 kilometres – within its Fixed Wireless commercial network, with the extended coverage meaning more people across Australia than ever before will be able to gain access to the fixed wireless network.

As the first network in the world to deploy Ericsson’s world-leading software in the field, the insights and learnings gained from this initiative will be instrumental in developing the ecosystem for long-range mmWave access globally, and exploring new use cases for the technology and the network.

In addition to validating Ericsson’s software in the commercial network, the companies are continually investing considerable effort in trialling the extended range mmWave capability in nbn’s field testing environment at one of nbn’s test sites near Mortlake, Victoria. This has recently resulted in successfully achieving an extended range mmWave transmission of over 10km in field tests. This milestone follows the previous world first achievement set in 2021, when the two companies were the first to set a 5G long-range transmission world record, helping to prove the case for mmWave to be used for long-range environments.

As a second key initiative, Ericsson is developing mid-band Massive MIMO features such as optimized multi-user MIMO pairing, specifically tailoring these developments in response to the nbn Fixed Wireless network access scenarios. With these advancements, nbn™ will be able to improve spectrum efficiency and uplift capacity.

The MoU follows the recent ten-year partnership extension between Ericsson and NBN Co in November 2022. Under the exclusive agreement, Ericsson will supply nbn with the next-generation technology critical to enabling 5G in many existing towers across the nbn Fixed Wireless network.

Jason Ashton, nbn Executive General Manager of Fixed Wireless and Satellite, said: “nbn is committed to fostering productivity and innovation and push the boundaries of our network to meet the current and future broadband needs of homes and businesses across Australia.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with Ericsson in the exploration, testing and demonstration of new technologies, which will bring with it opportunities for knowledge transfer and extending engineering capabilities across both organisations. This software demonstrates capabilities that are just the start of what is possible with 5G mmWave and it’s exciting to be at the forefront of this change as we continually evolve the capability of our network.”

Emilio Romeo, Head of Ericsson Australia and New Zealand, said: “The nbn Fixed Wireless network is a critical enabler to a digital Australia. I am pleased that our decade-long relationship with nbn continues to evolve, allowing Ericsson to build precise solutions to support nbn in enhancing its network. We are leading the way with innovation to extend the range of 5G, which is critical to closing the digital divide and enabling a better experience for Australians across the country.”

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