5G industry news

5G Realised - Day 1

  • 5 minute read
  • Published by Eleanor Brash on 10 Apr 2019
  • Last modified 10 Apr 2019
A sunny day in London and, at the Congress Centre within spitting distance of the British Museum, the UK’s experts in 5G infrastructure and its application in industry have gathered.

Sponsored by Huawei and Accenture and with support from the UK5G team and DCMS, 5G Realised brings together industry leaders to explore real use cases for 5G technologies, and how they can be brought to life.

The day opened with Amol Phadke, Global Lead for Network Services at Accenture, outlining the findings of their survey of 1,800 business executives. He showed the audience that more work needs to go into educating end users about the implications and potential of 5G. Accenture found that, across industries in 10 countries, most executives (53 percent) believe there are “very few” things that 5G will enable them to do that they cannot already do with 4G networks. Fewer than two in five executives (37 percent) expect 5G to bring a “revolutionary” shift in speed and capacity.

At the same time, executives acknowledge that the technology has important competitive implications. Sixty percent of executives believe that 5G will cover nearly all the population by the year 2022, and 70 percent believe that 5G applications will give them a competitive edge with customers. More than two in five executives also expect 5G to have a “significant” impact on speed (46 percent) and capacity (42 percent).

accenture 5g realisedFollowing this, the C-Suite of the operator world assembled on stage to present their 5G visions. We heard from:

·         Howard Watson Chief Technology and Information Officer, BT

·         Brendan O’Reilly Chief Technology Officer, Telefonica

·         Graham Baxter Chief Operating Officer - Transformation, Three UK

·         Andrea Dona Chief Network Officer, Vodafone UK

BT’s journey towards its one, smart network is outlined below. Howard reminded delegates that it, via EE, was planning to rollout 5G in 16 cities in 2019 starting with London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Manchester and Birmingham. Meanwhile, Graham from Three emphasised his networks investment in capacity early on in the 5G process.

Three’s 100MHz contiguous bandwidth sets the benchmark for 5G speeds in the UK

Many of the operators in this first session took the opportunity to outline what they felt was needed to accelerate 5G deployment in the UK – and to make that profitable – for example:

·         Cheaper, faster access to fibre

·         Fast track planning permissions

·         Relaxed regulation on towers/masts

·         Leasing of mobile spectrum

·         Net neutrality to enable 5G monetisation

Vodafone, in particular, stressed the service element of 5G. Their chart outlining the profitability of different IoT sectors, and the value therein for connectivity providers, was striking:

Vodafone slide 5g realised

Following a refreshment break, Mansoor Hanif, CTO of Ofcom, was joined by Mike Short from DIT to present the UK Government’s vision for 5G. Innovation and collaboration are the key to a successful 5G rollout, along with ensuring that spectrum is available that meets demand. Only through innovation can the country ensure that coverage is maximised and reliable – both on the transport systems and in our rural areas. Beamforming, LEOs and UAVs were suggested as potential routes to extending coverage – without the need to install masts.

“Emerging technical innovation can reduce cost and extend reach. Ofcom will continue to look at ways it can facilitate this – for example our work to license-exempt self-installed mobile repeaters”

Among the key themes for the future of regulation were:

·         New service providers – more network operators than vendors?

·         Need for a wider ecosystem as the connectivity universe expands

·         The dynamics between edge and cloud

·         Security frameworks and certification

As Mike and Mansoor moved on to discuss which sectors are likely to be among the first to benefit from 5G, they considered where the UK already has industrial leadership. Film / Media, Automotive and Healthcare emerged as areas with clear 5G use cases and where the UK has expertise that can be leveraged and enhanced.

Before lunch the agenda turned to standards, and how the industry moves from these into real-world technology applications. With the successful release of 3GPP’s Rel.15 last year and the promise of Rel.16 in 2020, the question of when businesses should actually start developing 5G services and applications was in the air. Is it worth investing early, or to wait until the dust settles? For Colin Willcock of 5GIA, it is more efficient to wait for stability before attempting to establish leadership.

After lunch, UK5G attended the agri-tech session which echoed a statement from Rahim Tafazolli of 5GIC / University of Surrey earlier in the day, that the greater impact on the UK economy of 5G will be through automation, not through mobile broadband.  The presenters (AgriEPICentre, Quickline Communications, Precision Decisions, Lincoln Institute of Agri Food Technology (LIAT) and Low Level Earth Observation) outlined some outstanding use cases for 5G in agriculture and made clear the need for 5G over 4G.  From connected cows, to real-time visualisations of fields and herds, to robotics for fruit picking, greenhouse management and targeted pesticides, the applications were convincing. The repeated need for data intensive cloud processing (for example, for image recognition) and real-time results (for example, to spot areas of a field that haven’t been watered) showed that 5G could truly revolutionise the farming sector.

The trick for that, of course, is in ensuring rural connectivity – both to communications networks and to power supplies.  To find out more about the six Phase 1 Testbed and Trials programmes exhibiting at 5G Realised, visit the Projects pages.