Ericsson invests $50 million into Lewisville 5G Smart Factory – The Dallas Morning News

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The fifth generation of wireless mobile networks is about to receive some help as telecom giant Ericsson is investing an additional $50 million into its Lewisville 5G Smart Factory at 2601 South Valley Parkway. The Sweden-based company previously spent $100 million to launch the facility four years ago.

With the cash injection, Ericsson will be able to bolster manufacturing of products made at the factory like 5G radios which will increase access to the latest generation of networks for everyday citizens and many of its corporate customers like AT&T, Verizon and Dell.

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It was an obvious choice for Ericsson, a company with a market capitalization of nearly $20 billion, to pump more money into Lewisville as the demand for 5G networks has soared in the United States in recent years.

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More than half of all Americans already utilize 5G mobile connections. By 2030, the number of worldwide 5G users is expected to hit 5 billion, according to London-based mobile data analyst firm GSMA Intelligence.

“We’re super proud of this factory because it’s actually manufacturing our top-of-the-line products that are being deployed in the last few years here in the U.S.,” said Yossi Cohen, Ericsson’s president and head of Ericsson North America. “Essentially, the whole supply chain for our radio antennas is being manufactured and developed in the U.S.”

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Cellular companies began launching 5G networks in 2019. It was a big moment in telecommunication history as 5G connections provide higher reliability, increased network capacity, lower latency and faster speeds for its users.

Ericsson SVP & Head of Market Area for North America Yossi Cohen speaks during a...
Ericsson SVP & Head of Market Area for North America Yossi Cohen speaks during a presentation at their 5G plant in Lewisville, Texas on May 20, 2024. (Azul Sordo / Special Contributor)

Ericsson was quick to hop on the trend and begin its own 5G revolution when its own 5G connections went live that year. But the 300,000 square-foot Lewisville factory, built from the ground up, was slightly halted as it launched in 2020, the same year as the COVID-19 pandemic.

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But with the pandemic largely out of the way, Ericsson’s 500 employees at the 24/7 facility are working to make products like advanced antenna systems.

The $50 million investment will help secure Ericsson’s place at the top by expanding the factory’s innovation hub, which will help bolster future research and design, said Daniela Pires, head of Ericsson’s Lewisville 5G Smart Factory.

“It’s very important that we are leading the way here because it’s not just a factory,” she said. “Some products for the U.S. are in prototype in this facility. So it’s not only about the production. We’re exploring how can we improve the lifestyles of our employees, quality, efficiency and everything related to the manufacturing space.”

Though the factory is already highly automated, the investment will also help Ericsson further research on how to utilize artificial intelligence within its four walls. Advancing its own AI technology may help the company reel in more help from the federal government, said Erik Ekudden, chief technology officer and head of strategy for Ericsson.

“We are using AI in terms of developing the future network,” he said. “The more important thing long term is that we are opening up innovation that will create new growth. Especially as we move into medium businesses, government, defense services and all of those demanding applications.”

The additional investment is one that was met with praise from the market with the company’s stock nudging 0.50% upwards Monday. But it’s a move that also received praise from its corporate customers and the Biden Administration amid the country’s 5G race with China.

U.S. Rep Asan Ramzanali at a presentation at Ericsson's 5G plant in Lewisville, Texas on May...
U.S. Rep Asan Ramzanali at a presentation at Ericsson’s 5G plant in Lewisville, Texas on May 20, 2024. (Azul Sordo / Special Contributor)

Though the investment isn’t coming from the taxpayer’s pockets, Ericsson’s $50 million will helps ensure that 500 jobs will remain in North Texas for the foreseeable future, said Asad Ramzanali, the White House’s chief of staff for its Office of Science and Technology Policy.

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“This is part of the President’s ‘Investing in America’ agenda to make sure that we can get good paying jobs that can connect every American. It’s a big deal that there’s investments here,” he said. “There is a strategic competition with China, and the President has been super clear that we have to be competing on every level.”

Congressmen like Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Texas, and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, also voiced their support of Ericsson’s investment. For Veasey, the investment helps put his mind at ease as the U.S. sprints toward further 5G adoption, he said.

“As we talk about the growing threat from China, I think it’s going to be companies like Ericsson that will really lead the way when it comes to helping make sure that America is the country that is leading in this area,” he said. “This will obviously have a huge impact on every congressional district here in North Texas when it comes to economic prosperity.”

It especially helps AT&T, whose corporate headquarters in Dallas is only about 30 minutes from Ericsson’s Lewisville factory.

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AT&T’s 5G network, supported by Ericsson, has reached 300 million people. The company’s large-scale investment is proof AT&T is working with the right partner as it hopes to continue increasing access to its 5G network, said Yigal Elbaz, senior vice president and network chief technical officer for AT&T.

“All of this manufacturing used to be outside of the United States. So today’s announcement is encouraging for us and it helps that we can come out here to see what they’re working on,” he said. “I don’t see challenges for 5G adoption. I see excitement. Delivery-based drones, mobile gaming, so much of it is going to be more immersive because of what’s happening here. We’re just excited for the future.”

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