Ericsson sets sights on broadband dominance

With providers consolidating or going out of business, Ericsson Federal Inc. forecasts a bright future for itself as the No. 1 broadband provider to the federal government.

Ericsson is outstripping its remaining competitors by spending $5 billion annually for research and development of broadband technology, said Douglas Smith, president and chief executive officer of Ericsson Federal, the U.S. subsidiary of the Swedish telecommunications giant.

“We’re really the player,” he said. “We have those solutions all the way from the top of the network — applications and infrastructure for handling video and storing it, tagging it and so on — all the way down to the access, which is wireless or optical, to the desktop.”

“Video is driving broadband technology," Smith said. "Voice and data are almost an afterthought. They are applications.”

Also, Ericsson’s main competitor for broadband services, China, cannot sell the technology to the federal government, he said, and he predicted that “Ericsson eventually will be the last-standing Western broadband player.”

Smith’s optimistic scenario is bolstered by the fact that existing civilian, defense and intelligence community networks will need new broadband networks to handle video, because the government is increasingly relying on video sensor platforms to transmit information, whether in a war zone or at the scene of a natural disaster, he said.

Those sensor platforms, whether they are satellites, unmanned aerial vehicles or handheld devices on the ground, are increasing exponentially, Smith said.

With an eye on that future, Ericsson Federal recently opened a large office in Reston, Va., to accommodate current and planned expansion. It also hired a team of new executives.

“We needed domain expertise, we needed guys who knew the agencies and knew how to get technology into programs, and that’s why we’ve been hiring those guys,” Smith said.

In addition, through its 2007 acquisition of Norwegian digital broadcast systems maker Tandberg Television, Ericsson has been able to integrate Tandberg’s video compression and transmission products into its broadband solutions, Smith said.

The new hires are:

  • Bob Dunn, senior vice president of business development, sales and marketing.
  • Dave Baciocco, vice president of business development, defense and intelligence.
  • Brian Fitzpatrick, vice president of business development, civilian.
  • John Klopacz, vice president of sales, DOD/commercial satcom providers.
  • Kristin Oelke, vice president of marketing.
  • Tim Shalvey, director of sales for civilian, state and local clients and channel partners.