By Anne Morris

Carving out spectrum for verticals is wrong approach

Germany is one country that has revealed its intention of reserving 5G spectrum for local use, but mobile operators continue to voice concerns that ring-fencing valuable frequencies for specific industries is not the right approach.

Luke Ibbetson, chief engineer at Vodafone Group, said the operator believes spectrum is best deployed in large blocks and it would generally not support carving out spectrum for vertical sectors. He added that in countries where such an approach has been taken, the industries are asking operators to run the networks.

Ibbetson was speaking during the Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) press conference at MWC19 Barcelona as part of a panel of operators that discussed 5G use cases beyond mobile broadband, with a focus on applications for verticals.

Also tying in with spectrum ring-fencing, Deutsche Telekom focused its presentation on 5G campus networks, and the idea of combining private and public cellular networks to support industrial use cases, such as smart factories. While industries have been lobbying for local 5G frequencies to secure the basis for private 5G networks, it’s clear that operators want to keep the area of private networks within their own sphere of influence.

Arash Ashouriha, SVP of group technology innovation and deputy CTO at Deutsche Telekom, said campus networks was the solution it came up with to help meet the future requirements of industry. The idea is to provide a “dual slice” combining public and private cellular networks and create a local network edge that remains under the control of the customer. An example of such a campus network based on LTE has already been deployed at lighting specialist Osram in Germany with the aim of controlling autonomous transport robots.

Other 5G use cases outlined during the panel session included the use of AR for industrial maintenance, as expounded by Emmanuel Lugagne Delpon, SVP at Orange Labs Networks; 5G for smart power grids, which is a strong focus of China Mobile Research Institute; remote medicine, using 5G to eliminate inequality in access to healthcare, as explained by Seizo Onoe, chief technology architect at NTT Docomo; and 5G for smart factories and industrial automation, which is a focus of Vodafone.

Igal Elbaz, SVP wireless network architecture and design at AT&T, highlighted the US operator’s exclusive alliance with AR headset start-up Magic Leap, and pointed out that the two companies will also work together on 5G business solutions. AT&T is already the exclusive wireless distributor of Magic Leap products.