-By Joseph Waring

Nokia CTO calls for industrial focus

Marcus Weldon, CTO of Nokia and president of Bell Labs, believes mobile operators will only return to strong growth if they shift their focus from the consumer to the industrial segment.

“There is a great amount of innovation and potential for 5G, but I fear we’re getting it wrong. As an industry we’re focusing a little too much on the consumer segment,” he said during the GTI Summit yesterday.

Consumers will benefit from 5G, but future growth will come from the industrial area, he said.

The value of telcos over the past decade has remained flat, while platform companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon have soared.

“That isn’t going to change unless we change what we focus on. We have to focus on new value-creation segments, such as edge, cloud and high-performance computing, and associated AI systems.”

How can we fix this? he asked. “We have to recognise we’re about to undergo a shift.”

For the consumer smartphone-based segment, it’s all about e-commerce, social and best effort. On the industrial side, he said it’s a multitude of things, such as real-time interaction for machines, ultra-low latency and high-performance computing, which require much higher reliability.

Weldon explained it’s actually about a collision of ICT and operations technologies, which runs the physical world on proprietary systems and uses very little ICT.

Bell Labs forecasts that shifting to the right segments has the potential to double or triple the size of the industry in the next ten years, adding as much as $1 trillion in new revenue.

Weldon closed by saying the industry has overemphasised the value of licensed spectrum, and as it moves into Industry 4.0 services, there has to be more flexibility and openness to shared spectrum.

“We kill ourselves with our obsession with licensed spectrum. It has been the anchor of our industry but also the millstone around our neck.”