5G: the state of play

Digital World 2019 Daily Highlights Day 2

5G is no longer a future technology, just around the corner, tomorrow’s big thing – 5G is here! Seeking to find out just where we’re at with 5G, this session provided expert views from industry and government on concrete use cases, trials, strategies and the impact on developed and developing countries alike.

ITU’s vision on 5G embraces three main use cases, explained moderator Diana Tomimura, Spectrum Regulation and Policy Advisor, ITU: enhanced mobile broadband communication providing up to 100 Mbps user experience, ultra-reliable low latency communication for critical applications such as self-driving cars, and massive machine-type communications for smart city scenarios.

New services are coming fast, from the USA to Korea, Japan, Europe and the Middle East but, as Marc Vancoppenolle, Global Head of Nokia Government Relations, Nokia, pointed out, most use cases today are offering an enhanced version of 4G, “a boost in terms of use cases and a better experience of existing 4G services.”  Huge investments are needed to deploy 5G networks, so operators will need new revenue streams and new use cases to guarantee return on investment.  “It is a journey based on incremental 4G,” he said, but 5G use cases will continue to evolve as existing benefits become ever clearer.

Dominique Würges, Director, International Relations, Orange, agreed that the evolution of 5G technology is a long journey of maturation involving different phases, research and cooperation. The revolution part comes in how 5G will address a larger ecosystem with verticals, industry sectors and new businesses – so that 5G, by its very nature, will be a multi-stakeholder co-construction embracing public and private sectors. Key factors include standardization work, harmonization and allocation of frequencies – and use cases under trial include cities, corporate sites, manufacturing, public transportation and automated driving. Orange hopes to launch deployment of 100% 5G on a fully commercial basis by 2022 at the latest.

For Antonio Amendola, Executive Director International External Affairs, AT&T Global Networks Services, whole ecosystem sharing with partners, and investment in spectrum are also critical to unleash the potential of 5G. His company’s experience of taking 5G out of the lab and into the field has made for interesting learning, with AT&T targeting a 75% virtualized network by 2020 to support massive 5G data usage. 

Jennifer Manners, Senior Vice President, Regulatory Affairs, Echostar, spoke with enthusiasm of the generation of communications technology requiring a “network of networks”, combining terrestrial and space services to achieve low latency, high-speed and high capacity. Satellites, both geostationary and non-geostationary, have tremendous potential to contribute to 5G connectivity in a range of use cases, from providing connectivity to challenging, rural and remote areas to allowing for wide coverage, low latency IoT solutions.

Of the three usage scenarios outlined by ITU, it is enhanced broadband mobile communications that will lift off the 5G era in Africa, according to Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman, NCC

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