Ericsson to build ITC centre in Quebec


Ericsson LM is celebrating its 60th anniversary here by building a huge information and communications centre in a Montreal suburb.

Company CEO Has Vestberg said Monday in a teleconference call from Sweden to the Canadian Telecom Summt in Toronto that the global ICT centre – at 40,000 square metres about the size of eight football fields – will be built in Vaudreuil-Dorion to consolidate many of the network equipment company’s research and development facilities around the world.

The centre is expected to be open in the first half of 2015 and will take advantage of special electric rates from Hydro Quebec.

Ericsson Canada president Mark Henderson said the parent company will put in $350 million into the building, which some news reports pegged at $1.3 billion when provincial grants and federal and provincial tax breaks are taken into account.

According to the National Post, Quebec premier Pauline Marois said her province competed with China and other Canadian provinces for the centre.

Ericsson, which has some 3,200 staff here, has made many commitments to innovate in Canada, said Henderson, “and this is another very large investment.”

The new centre will have three functions: Primarly, it will house the company’s entire telecom portfolio of hardware and software for research and development by all Ericsson researchers around the world. Henderson said 80 per cent of R&D work can be done remotely.

“Right now we develop in 50 countries,” he said. “You have replication and duplication of equipment. It’s not efficient, it use up too much power.”

Second, carrier customers from around the world will be able to connect to the centre to test solutions for interoperability with Ericsson gear. And third, it will house Ericsson Canada’s IT systems on a private cloud.

The company has come a long way from its beginings in Canada, when it started selling radar systems to the Canadian military, PBXs and an oddly-shaped one-piece home telephone with a rotary dial in the base.

Today Ericsson gear is used by almost every wireless carrier in the country and is in the core network of Rogers Communications.

When Nortel Networks was being sold off Ericsson picked up the wireless carrier and multi service switch divisions. Last year it bought Ottawa’ BelAir Networks, which makes carrier Wi-Fi equipment.

 Also on Monday Ericsson released the latest edition of its mobility report, which, as other studies have shown, illustrates that wireless data traffic is expected to grow quickly in the next five years.

Overall data traffic is expected to grow 12-fold by the end of 2018.  The largest chunk of that will be video, which is expected to grow around 60 per cent annually up until the end of 2018. Total global smartphone subscriptions hit the 1.2 billion mark in 2012, and are due to reach 4.5 billion by the end of 2018.

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