As the mass deployment cycle of 4G technologies slows, we are preparing for 5G, or the fifth generation mobile communication technology, to take off, an Ericsson executive said.
Chris Houghton, Ericsson's senior vice president and head of region North East Asia, said the company is currently increasing its R&D resources to prepare for 5G in China.
The new generation of the internet will allow users to download massive digital content in seconds and execute tasks that are thrilling but remain difficult in the 4G era, such as operating driverless automobiles and implementing applications related to the Internet of Things.
Since the Sweden-headquartered telecommunications conglomerate will have been in China for 125 years by next year, Houghton believes it is a dynamic, challenging and highly competitive market and will increasingly drive the future of global communications.
Recently he spoke to China Daily about his vision and strategy and new opportunities for Ericsson in China.
The following are edited excerpts of the interview:
How do you view China's rapid economic growth and its recent slowdown? Will this affect Ericsson's development in the market? What are your business strategies as you readjust to new Chinese economic realities, like the New Normal?
China's growth over the past 30 years has been remarkable and the benefits are there for all to see -- people's lives have been improved tremendously.
A slowdown from such a rapid growth rate is to be expected but 6.5 percent GDP growth is still a comparatively high rate of growth in a low growth world and therefore highly attractive to global companies.
Mobile communication is one of the last areas to be affected by changes in growth rates. People still have the need to communicate even in lower growth times and it's not one of the portions of disposable income they tend to cut back on, so we don't see a dramatic change to our business from the slowdown.
In addition, the digitalization of our daily life continues at a rapid pace and there is a need for more advanced technologies. As the mass deployment cycle of 4G technologies slows, we are preparing for 5G to take off.
How do you assess the prospects of Ericsson in China in conjunction with the Chinese market and economy?
I believe Ericsson China has a bright future; we have been in China for 125 years next year and we are planning for another 125. It's a dynamic, challenging and highly competitive market and will increasingly drive the future of global communications, so we are highly committed and will continue to contribute to China's economic growth and social development into the future.
Do you have any plans for new investments in China in the next few years? Do you plan to add to your R&D efforts in China?
We have a significant investment in China already, with over 11,000 people in the country covering sales, manufacturing, R&D, global service center and other global functions.
We also source a considerable portion of equipment and components in China for our global operations. We are currently increasing our R&D resources to prepare for 5G.
What do you think of the opportunities and challenges facing your company amid recent traditional industry reform in China? How does Ericsson fit into the national strategy of "Made in China 2025" and "Internet Plus"?
Our industry is ever-changing so we are used to change. We are in a continuous transformation to stay relevant and competitive in such a dynamic industry.
For us, change is good and to be embraced.
Ericsson has been manufacturing in China since 1992 and our factory in Nanjing is one of only two main manufacturing hubs globally.
Made in China 2025 is a key initiative for us, as manufacturing is transformed by increased development in robotics and the industrial internet powered by 5G technology.
Internet Plus is our core business and the benefits to Chinese society of a Networked Society, where everything that can be connected will be connected, are huge.
What's the biggest difference between the China market and the other markets? What are the challenges in the China market?
The China market is at the forefront of technology.
It's not watching other countries, it's taking a lead. Adding to that, the huge scale in the country combined with the incredible speed in which that scale is deployed, you have a unique combination that sets China apart.
China is an incredibly exciting and dynamic market with all the challenges to a business that cutting edge technology on a huge scale with high speed deployment entails, but it is also a market where the world's leading companies need to be for those very same reasons.