It's tough being Ericsson at the moment, so it's perhaps not surprising that although it had some genuinely interesting announcements to make it majored on one if its customer success stories – Telstra.
Telstra's ebullient Sol Trujillo was there, in his lightweight threads and tango dancer's moustache, to tell us all the success the operator is having with its HSPA services. Data ARPUs are up to 30% of the total, non-SMS data ARPU is up 93% in a year, 15% of contract post paid HSPA subscribers (that's 15% of 60% of TelstraÕs total HSPA users, by the way) have bought a data card for the laptop.
The point Ericsson was keen to make was then when a company bets big on broadband and goes to market in the right way, everyone wins. So, given that there are 170+ HSPA networks globally, why isn't this data success story being repeated everywhere? Is it because Telstra is using 850MHz and so can cover more area with fewer base stations? Is it just that the distributed nature of Australia lends itself to the technology well.
Trujillo was petty convinced it was because the operator went at things in a market managed way, working hard on segmentation and relevant services before launch.
Announcements wise, there were quite a few. There was a new base station, the RBS 6000, which 'supports' everything from GSM up to LTE. Of course, LTE isn't there at the moment but when spectrum is available, Mikael Back said, operators will be able to slot in LTE interfaces. The base station fits in a cabinet about the size of a hotel mini bar, with a remote radio head completing the picture. Ericsson is showing LTE calls from trial devices on its stand this show.
There were also a couple of interesting platform (chip) announcements. The first was that by early 2009 TI and Ericsson will be shipping a single chip, multiple open OS, HSPA solution. This puts Ericsson's HSPA modem on one chip with TI's OMAP3430 all on one ship. But hold on, early 2009 we said. Yes that's right. This an 'announcement'a year ahead of the actual commercial availability. Is this a bit of a place holder given the competition?
There was also a platform from Ericsson for mass market devices, the U500, that is designed to take multimedia services into medium range devices. This too is not available till early 2009.
Everyone knows Ericsson is struggling financially, but likewise analysts are convinced the company can have a good 2009/10, as it will benefit from uptake of mobile broadband services. The question for Ericsson is, why can'tall operators chow the HSPA success Telstra has. Because without a services boom in Europe and other mature markets, Ericsson has nowhere else to go -apart from announcing things that won'tcome to market for a year.