Ericsson to add 300 U.S. jobs as 5G demand picks up

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Mobile telecom equipment maker Ericsson ERICb.ST said on Friday it would add around 300 jobs in the United States to meet rising demand for next-generation 5G equipment.

The Ericsson logo is seen at the Ericsson's headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden June 14, 2018. REUTERS/Olof Swahnberg

It said it is aiming to employ engineers and artificial intelligence specialists.

“This is part of an increase in R&D investment. It doesn’t mean we are cutting (staff) somewhere else to do this,” Chief Executive Borje Ekholm told Reuters.

Many investors expect the Swedish company to benefit from a new cycle of network upgrades as demand for 5G gear kicks in later this year or early in 2019, starting in the United States.

After a broad restructuring and clear out of top management, Ericsson is tackling falling spending on networks by telecoms operators, but it has added recruits in research and development in order to be ready to meet eventual demand for 5G networks.

The company, which has around 95,000 employees worldwide, also said it would build its first 5G radios in the United States by the end of this year.

Once the world's biggest supplier of mobile communications gear, Ericsson competes with bigger telecom equipment players Huawei of China and Finland's Nokia NOKIA.HE.

Nokia last month said it had won a $3.5 billion deal with T-Mobile, the third biggest U.S. mobile carrier. The United States is Ericsson’s largest market, accounting for around 25 percent of its revenue.

Ekholm declined to comment on its market share this year, but said “we have very good momentum in our customer relations.”

Last month, the company posted an unexpected swing to a modest operating profit citing growing sales traction in North America.

Reporting by Olof Swahnberg and Helena Soderpalm; editing by Jason Neely