LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 EURASIA, MOSCOW: Beeline Russia CEO Alexander Torbakhov (pictured) reminded delegates spectrum and deployment of new mobile technologies are vital to delivering services, but asserted improving customer experience is the only way to find breakthrough growth.

During a panel discussion, Torbakhov insisted the key challenge operators face is maintaining and enhancing the user experience, noting developing new services is not about just offering faster YouTube videos, because 4G and 5G are broadly viewed the same by consumers.

With hundreds of operators around the world offering 5G services, he said “it’s cool when video on our smartphone” loads in under ten seconds compared with more than 30 seconds. “But, actually it doesn’t change a lot and there won’t be a huge breakthrough as with LTE”.

The Beeline chief suggested speed tests are more useful for industry professionals than customers, who don’t understand the difference between 20Mb/s and 80Mb/s.

Torbakhov noted 5G had become relevant to gamers, because it offers something customers “can really see”, in turn opening opportunities to “accelerate revenue”.

Other concerns
During the panel, Big Data Association president Anna Serebryanikova highlighted a lack bandwidth in Russia on user experience, noting operators have little buffer when usage spikes.

“Without a single position among operators we don’t have the opportunity for an efficient dialogue with the regulator to show the bandwidth issue is really important.”

Etisalat Group CEO Hatem Dowidar highlighted operators’ need at least 50MHz of spectrum to deliver efficient 5G services.

Evolution of the 5G market in the past two years means “implementation and integration” are easy once spectrum is in place.

And Russian Towers CEO Alexander Chub noted the rising number of infrastructure companies meant the competitive advantage was shifting from being about the number of base stations to managing the relationship with mobile users.