Orange brought into Ericsson's 5G heavy embrace with pilots planned for 2017

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Orange is the latest operator to be swept up by Ericsson's seemingly all-encompassing 5G research strategy, working with the Swedish vendor on selected use cases.

Both companies said the partnership will enable 5G building blocks, proofs of concept, and pilots to be held across Orange's European markets from next year.

The France-based operator said it wants to focus on multi-gigabit networks across suburban and rural environments, massive and mission critical IoT networks that will transform industry and society, "ultra large" mobile coverage solutions, and connected cars.

Other areas will include the evolution from LTE to 5G, including building energy and cost efficient networks, as well as software defined networking and network functions virtualisation.

Alain Maloberti, Senior Vice President, Orange Labs Networks, said: "Our ambition is to be prepared for a 5G deployment in 2020. By joining forces with Ericsson, we will create for our customers a solid network capable of delivering a wide range of services, from greater data speed everywhere to specialized services for cities and industries."

Arun Bansal, Senior Vice President and Head of Business Unit Network Products, Ericsson, added: "The Internet of Things requires network capabilities to a new level. 5G will not only be built for consumers, who need a seamless experience with their phones and connected devices, but also for the digitalization of entire industries and society. Together with Orange we are joining our strengths to help make this a reality."

Last month, Ericsson opened a 5G "Garage" in Paris, which is focusing its work on IoT networks for smart cities, with a separate lab focusing on connected tennis and building solutions.