Ericsson Appoints New CTO

Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) has named its current head of Product Area Radio, Ulf Ewaldsson, as its new CTO, effective Feb. 1. He replaces Håkan Eriksson, who stepped down in December. (See Euronews: Ericsson's CTO Steps Down.)

Ewaldsson, a 20-year Ericsson veteran who has been "instrumental" in the development of key mobile networking products such as the RBS 6000 base station and the Antenna Integrated Radio (AIR) unit, will be CTO, head of Group Function Technology & Portfolio Management. (See Ericsson's Small Cells Come Up for AIR, Ericsson: Coming Up for AIR in 2012 and Ericsson Intros Base Station.)

Ewaldsson will be based in Stockholm and not taking on the additional role of head of Ericsson Silicon Valley, a position that San Jose, Ca.-based Eriksson held. (See Bigger IP Role for Ericsson .)

That decision triggered a somewhat defensive statement from Ericsson. In its official announcement about Ewaldsson's appointment, Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg was keen to stress the company's ongoing "strong commitment to our operations in Silicon Valley. Our operation in San Jose remains the center of our IP business … We will continue to drive the convergence of fixed, mobile and Internet from Silicon Valley and focus on strengthening partnerships in the areas of both hardware and software, Internet applications as well as in the PC industry."

That IP business, built around the Redback portfolio acquired in 2007, has been developed to support the vendor's next-generation networks proposition, which is particularly (but not exclusively) targeted at mobile operators deploying packet-based core networks as part of their migration to an all-IP infrastructure. (See Ericsson Debuts New Service Routers, Core Network Challenges LTE Vendors and Ericsson Offers $2.1B for Redback .)

Why this matters
Ericsson needed to fill the hole left when Eriksson stepped down, especially with key customer meetings coming up at Mobile World Congress 2012, and in Ewaldsson it has an experienced technologist who has been heavily involved in the latest mobile network technology developments. (See Analyst Acclaims New Ericsson CTO.)

But, of course, Ericsson is much more than just a mobile networks vendor these days and its portfolio strategy will need to take into account all the other key areas of in-house technology development, such as video, Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) and IP. To that end, Ewaldsson will need to develop some key internal relationships with other technology stakeholders within the company, including the top team in Silicon Valley.

So having reminded everyone of the importance of the Silicon Valley operation, CEO Vestberg now needs a new head of Ericsson Silicon Valley to work with Ewaldsson, create a clear and transparent line of responsibility and nip in the bud any suggestions that the IP business is being cut adrift from the mothership.

One candidate for the Silicon Valley job could be San Jose-based Jan Häglund, who was appointed head of Ericsson's IP and broadband business unit in mid-2011.

For more
Ericsson knows that just being a mobile networking leader is no longer enough these days:

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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