[CEO Insights] Ericsson (HK) Limited Interview:

Would Hong Kong lose its competitive edge in the 5G era?

Interviewee: Mr. Michael Lee–Chief Technology Officer, Ericsson HK Ltd.

Interviewer: Dr. Mark Lee, Research Director of Asia Pacific Institute for Strategy

Date: February 13, 2019

Ericsson (HK) Limited, part of Ericsson Greater China, is responsible for all mobile and fixed network businesses in Hong Kong and Macau, providing telecommunications operators with technologies and services.

Ericsson’s product mixes consist of mobile network and fixed network infrastructure, targeted at operators, corporate customers and developers for broadband and multimedia solutions.

Ericsson, founded in 1876 and headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, has more than 70,000 employees in 175 countries. It was listed on Stockholm Stock Exchange, also known as Nasdaq Stockholm.

MARK SIR: Recently, the market is under great pressure of 5G’s arrival. Is 5G really important? How does it differ from 3G and 4G?

MICHAEL: From 1G to 4G, it mainly serves general uses of mobile phones, but 5G is designed to serve diverse industrial uses for the Industry Internet. The proper application of 5G will boost industrial transformation;

MARK SIR: Well, I see. All countries expect to improve their own economic situations with 5G.

MICHAEL: Especially Europe, America and China attach great importance to whether the domestic sector can lead the industry. For instance, 5G technology can enhance the efficiency of the self-driving vehicle industry.

MARK SIR: I have some doubts. The Internet is fast but it may be disconnected, would it be dangerous to drive a self-driving vehicle?

MICHAEL: The project is progressing step by step and it won’t jump to a state completely controlled by machines. We believe that man responds to an emergency faster than a machine, but self-driving vehicles are designed to make the machine assist the driver in controlling a more perfect drive. The ultimate responsibility is still assumed by the driver or controller.

MARK SIR: How is self-driving developing in Hong Kong?

MICHAEL: In Hong Kong, there is a preliminary plan for self-driving vehicles for the time being in the airport or other designated places. At present, the self-driving vehicles can take effect only in a favorable environment.

MARK SIR: Hong Kong is a cultural desert, and the people are only concerned about how to speculate in stocks and buildings. Which has more advanced IoT in the Asia-Pacific region, Shanghai, Beijing, Osaka or Taipei?

MICHAEL: That’s right. Hong Kong lacks talent and lags behind slightly in this aspect. I often travel on business in the Asia Pacific region. IoT goes well in many countries, and it is more frequently used in China, in my view.

MARK SIR: I believe that, with the large population in China, there will be more opportunities and challenges. But will that make it easier for AI to succeed?

MICHAEL: China has a huge market, and all parties are willing to invest, as its return is more competitive.

MARK SIR: How about Hong Kong?

MICHAEL: The Hong Kong Government is also implementing Smart City and willing to invest in it. But is it fully funded to become Smart City? Hong Kong is too small, and its return of resources may be less attractive than the costs. So it takes little effect here!

MARK SIR: For Smart City, are the technologies available now?

MICHAEL: Yes. In fact, the technologies are available. As an applicant, I am concerned about whether it can be quickly put into operation and cooperated. On the other hand, are enterprises in Hong Kong aware of such demand? Are they willing to invest in it?

MARK SIR: What are the characteristics of the 5G market in Hong Kong?

MICHAEL: The market is too segmented, the technologies are available but its proper use and costs all affect the development of the 5G market.

MARK SIR: As a manager in technology industry, can you share your experience, thoughts, experience or motto with young people?

MICHAEL: I have been reflecting on whether what I have learnt can keep up with the times. The industry is developing rapidly, so we need to constantly reflect on ourselves, observe and coordinate our needs.

MARK SIR: Do you mean that we need to update and keep an eye on the market trends every quarter or months?

MICHAEL: Our company has reports every quarter, and we need to pay special attention to some disruptive technologies, whether they are starting or thriving.

MARK SIR: Is there anything else?

MICHAEL: Besides my own mainstream programs, I will notice the changes in the surroundings. In management, I will attach importance to talents and specialists in other countries. The company has a lack of exceptional talents, and we will recruit in different regions.

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