I spoke with Adrian Baschnonga at EY about 5G and its implications for future tech.
YBP: Hi Adrian, so you are the global lead telecom analyst at EY. To start us off, can you tell us a little bit more about what your job entails, please?
AB: That’s right, yes, so, basically I am responsible for the firm’s thought leadership output in the sector. I conduct a lot of our consumer research and also our industry research focused on telecoms operators and from that we get a lot of insights about what customers are feeling and the direction the industry is heading in.
So, in that case you are probably best placed to talk about what kind of innovation 5G will deliver.
Absolutely, 5G is really a paradigm shift for the mobile industry. So, it really signals a step change. If we think about 2G, for example, that was all about digital voice. With 3G we had data communications, with 4G we had true mobile broadband. If we look ahead to 5G it’s all about unlocking the internet of things and critically the difference between it and previous generations is the capacity for low latency communications. So, ultra-reliable responsive communications. When we think what kind of services this can unlock, it can be anything from autonomous driving to remote surgery to frictionless logistics, for example. So, the opportunity is very wide for 5G. It’s well beyond the traditional consumer market, for example. And if we think about when it’s going to happen, 2020 is really seen as the launch year for 5G, partly because standards haven’t yet been finalised.
That’s an interesting point. So, what is the operator take on 5G and how ready are they?
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Sure, in terms of operator readiness, we conducted a survey this year and we found that 77% of operators think that 5G will have the greatest impact on the industry. There are lot of high hopes behind it. When you drill into what operators are actually doing, they are taking a varied approach. Some operators in the States, for example, are looking at the role that 5G can take for rural broadband communities. Most operators are figuring out how 5G can play a role in the Internet of Things and they are also thinking about this step-change in terms of mobile broadband, in terms of 3G video or augmented reality. But when it comes to actual deployments, commercial availability isn’t slated for 2020 so right now we are seeing a lot of trials.
So, you’ve mentioned a lot of interesting use cases, but what are the opportunities for startups here in the UK?
Yes, the deployment of 5G will be really reliant on partnerships. So if you’re an operator, for example, you already have partnerships with the developer community, also IT companies, also other industry verticals, all of those will become more pronounced in the age of 5G because nobody really has end-to-end ownership of the customer. So, if you are looking at the application developer community, you are thinking about how can specific applications be created for specific industries, that’s one area. But even on the technology side, when you look at milimetre wave technology, startups could play a very active role in that space, too.
And to finish off, what enablers need to be in place for 5G to succeed?
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There is a number of things that need to happen for 5G to become a success. First off, the technology needs to be standardised. That’s going to happen in two phases: one from the end of this year and the next phase in 2019. Secondly, you need a lot of spectrum to come on to the market to support roll-out, deployment of 5G services. And again, there’s a few decisions that regulators need to make in terms of the auction frameworks and how they stagger the release of these different frequency bands. And finally, you know, government needs to play a vital supporting role here. As I’ve already mentioned, you know, the industry impact for 5G is huge and the opportunity to re-define different industry verticals is substantial.So, government support in terms of supporting the trial of 5G services is critical, also down to the local authority level in terms of overhauling planning policies. There are all areas where public sector support is vital.
Definitely a lot of food for thought there. Thank you very much for your time Adrian.
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