Ericsson sees a future where much more will be done digitally. To help shape the future, Ericsson has been advising the Ukrainian government for one year and is optimistic about Ukraine getting better internet access and 5G.
It has been almost a year since Ericsson agreed to advise the Ukrainian Ministry of Digital Transformation on fixing and implementing the 4G and 5G networks across the country. It will be a great advantage for both people and companies in Ukraine when the internet will be more widely available in the country. Yaroslav Nitsak, Vice President and Country Manager in Ukraine for Ericsson, says to Ukrainenu that Ericsson is happy to help.
“We at Ericsson Ukraine are committed to providing consultative support to the government with regards to spectrum strategy, licensing policy, and roadmap for future network development based on a global experience,” says Nitsak.
“A major step has been done in summer 2020 is re-farming of a low-frequency band 900 MHz allowing mobile operators to roll out 4G in small towns and villages. Since the beginning of July 2020, mobile operators have already provided 4G to more than 7 million Ukrainians living in 11.8 thousand towns and villages. At the same time, more than 2 million Ukrainians in 5.6 thousand cities and villages received 4G for the first time. This is a great achievement of the industry on the way to combat the digital divide.”
Not internet everywhere – yet
Previously, Ukrainenu has written about the internet speed in Ukraine, which is getting better every year. According to Cable.co.uk, Ukraine is number 82 out of 208 countries worldwide when it comes to having the best internet. The Ukrainian government has previously estimated that 70 percent of the population has access to the internet; however, it is often a slow connection – which is not acceptable, according to the government.
Nitsak says that getting fast internet in Ukraine is an important factor for the country to develop and create a country with good conditions for businesses.
“The development of information technology is certainly an important step towards building a more efficient and stronger country. High-quality internet services that are made accessible for every citizen are a prerequisite for the development of the information society in Ukraine enhancing citizens’ digital skills. The Ministry states they aim at breaking the old bureaucracy and building a new, sustainable, and successful Ukraine. We as a technology leader are ready to support the government with building the foundation for Ukraine to go digital,” says Nitsak.
While some companies are afraid of working with the Ukrainian government, Ericsson sees it as an excellent opportunity to help the country move forward.
“Our aim as telecommunications company is to deliver the benefits of telephony and mobile broadband to billions of people around the world. At Ericsson Ukraine, we as well openly collaborate and provide consultative support to the government when needed.”
5G internet is on its way
Nitsak explains that the main focus for the Ukrainian government and Ericsson at the moment is to expand the 4G network. It is hard to say when Ukraine will get 5G, but according to Ericsson, the country moves in that direction.
“As mentioned earlier, the journey has already started with rolling out 4G on low-frequency bands. By doing so, we will build a foundation for 5G technology deployment… For the first time in Ukraine, jointly with Lifecell, we have tested 5G technology back in 2019 and continued through 2020. On top of that, Lifecell deployed indoor coverage on Ericsson 5G-ready equipment in Retroville Mall in early December 2020. This means Lifecell network is ready for 5G once it’s introduced on the market, the only thing needed is a software upgrade,” says Nitsak.
“The government is planning to issue 5G licenses in October 2021. We see an initial 5G deployment in large cities where traffic is growing and selectively on production facilities. One of the directions we are now looking closely at is Dedicated networks (on 4G and later on 5G) – a network to provide 4G/5G coverage for a dedicated premise, in a mine, or at a large enterprise for industrial purposes,” he adds.
Covid-19 is pushing for more demand
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed everyone’s life around the world. For one thing, many have become more digital, and the same has been seen in Ukraine. More people are shopping online and using digital ways of paying, and there is, therefore, a need for fast internet more than ever in Ukraine. Ericsson sees a future in Ukraine, where much more will be done digitally, and Nitsak refers to how delivery has been booming.
However, according to Ericsson, that is only the beginning.
“In fact, Ukraine is already launching electronic digital services, companies are introducing electronic document management, and Ukrainians, in general, are becoming more committed to innovation. Thus, the data of the National Bank for the first half of 2020 show that 50% of contactless payments are made through NFC. This is just the beginning of digitalization: networks of the new generation will contribute to the development of all sectors of the economy. High-quality digital infrastructure opens new opportunities for interaction between users, business, and government,” Nitsak says.
“Now the migration towards digital technologies will accelerate. In the nearest future, we can predict the emergence of new services and platforms for remote work. Special focus will be put on online education, e-health, and also the Internet of Skills allowing technology to remotely transfer practical skills, such as learning to play musical instruments using virtual reality goggles and tactile gloves. People are looking for opportunities to bridge the gap between physical and digital realities,” he says.
In that future, 5G plays a crucial role, Nitsak predicts.
“We know that new technologies can change the life of society. For example, when the internet appeared in the ‘90s, it prompted people to buy PCs and companies to build websites. 5G technology can be a driver for an equally significant change. 5G is more than just smartphone connectivity – this is the platform to foster economic growth, development of urban infra infrastructure, and attracting talents. Economists from Ericsson Research and Imperial College London published a joint research project. We found clear evidence that mobile broadband (MBB) penetration contributes to economic growth. The results show that, on average, a 10% increase in the MBB adoption ratio causes a 0.8 percent increase in GDP,” he adds.