By Paul Rasmussen

Operators should prepare for the unexpected with 5G

The deployment of commercial 5G will never go to plan, according to Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s consumer brands.

Looking back over his past experiences with new technology rollouts, the executive, who heads up UK operator EE, said a key learning was to stay flexible: “It never goes how you expect, and you have to adjust quickly as consumers find the new capabilities and start using them in ways that was never planned.”

Despite these worries, Allera is looking forward to the challenge as EE prepares to launch 5G this summer in 16 UK cities. “This will only be around 10 per cent of our network, but presently carries around 30 per cent of our traffic. Some existing cell sites are already logging 1Tb of traffic a day, so 5G will certainly make an impact here.”

Netflix, Uber examples

Speaking at Tuesday’s session on 5G devices, Allera stressed that each generation of new technology has the ability to create new businesses, referencing Netflix and Uber as two standout examples. “The speed and low latency of 5G will trigger a wave of innovative apps and services, and one area we expect to be transformed is gaming.”

The impact that 5G will make to gaming was supported by Cristiano Amon, president of Qualcomm, who was also speaking at the event.

“Games developers are already looking at how 5G could transform their business models. We believe there will not be a need for new games consoles, with 5G handsets becoming mainstream devices in this sector supported by high bandwidth, low latency and edge computing.”

“The ability of 5G handsets to support 4k video will radically change how we consume this content. This could also see consumers becoming broadcasters, with the result that present day social media undergoes a huge transformation.”

According to Amon: “With each generation of wireless technology there are winners and losers. To survive, you need to understand the potential and be prepared to take risks.”