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Ericsson and China Mobile have agreed to start an “in-depth” collaboration on the Internet of Things to discover new markets, the companies announced Thursday.

Under a new strategic agreement, China Mobile will use Ericsson’s Device Connectivity Platform to simplify the process of connecting devices and deploy new services. Using the platform, China Mobile said it will be able to integrate resources from roaming partners and offer reliable connectivity to global enterprise customers. The partnership will also yield a unified approach to customer portals and selection of access networks, the carrier indicated.

“China Mobile expects to have 200 million IoT connections by 2017. We stick to the strategy of open cooperation with our partners for win-win results,” China Mobile Executive Vice President Yuejia Sha said. “China Mobile strengthens the collaboration with global leading enterprises of advanced platform, application, and intelligent hardware to drive the rapid development of our industry, and provides superior applications and services to our customers."

Launched in 2008, Ericsson’s Device Connection Platform is currently used by more than 24 operators and supports 1,700 customers throughout the industry.

Ericsson’s North East Asia Region Head Chris Houghton said the use of IoT applications on a large scale will “help promote the development and deployment of 5G technology.” More on how Ericsson CTO Glenn Laxdal views the evolution to 5G can be found here.

Speaking of 5G, the pair also signed a separate memorandum of understanding to begin collaborative research on and development of Cloud RAN.

Under that two-year agreement, Ericsson and China Mobile will seek to unify understanding of Cloud RAN and define use cases, research key technologies related to network function virtualization (NFV) – based Cloud RAN and the construction of the Cloud RAN architecture for future 5G use cases, and work towards the standardization of the related interfaces and capabilities.

The partnership news comes as Ericsson struggles to regain its footing in a market that has shifted away from its traditional core networks business. Over the past several quarters, the company has seen sales, income, and margins drop thanks to slack demand for mobile broadband and other “negative industry trends.”

The company has attempted to reinvigorate its profile with a lineup of value-added and next generation technologies – including an Accelerated Network Build solution to cut build times by 50 percent, cloud and NFV solutions, and 5G technologies – but has yet to see real results.

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