Aug. 14, 2020

August 12, 2020, Ericsson achieved a key milestone: 100 5G contracts just three years and eight months after the arrival of CEO Börje Ekholm. Our research also indicates Ericsson’s 5G core equipment is the most tested and deployed by service providers so far this year, giving the company a leading edge on 5G SA. This is a significant achievement that did not come without pain and is decidedly the result of a faultless execution of a tactical turnaround plan.

Lessons from Two Decades of Ups and Downs

Marked by worldwide adoption of 2G GSM, the first decade of this century saw the dot-com bubble, the European 3G spectrum license craze, the combination of Alcatel S.A. and Lucent Technologies, and the demise of Marconi and Nortel—assets of both companies were acquired by Ericsson and the financial crisis. Chugging along, Ericsson was ruling the world with more than 40% market share in the radio business. 2008 was a milestone: Ericsson had its best GSM year ever. And while the West was engulfed in the financial crisis, Ericsson weathered the storm, partly helped by its involvement in China’s massive 3G rollouts.

The last decade took a hugely different turn, however. It started with the combination of the early (4G) LTE rollouts and increasing competition from Huawei, incrementally eroding Ericsson’s market shares to the point of falling into second place. LTE sales peaked in 2015, creating a tumultuous marketplace for all telecom network equipment vendors that led to the combination of Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia, and the transformation of Ericsson. This new decade starts with 5G and Ericsson back in the driver seat.

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