BT network chief seeks collaboration on convergence - Mobile World Live

BT network chief seeks collaboration on convergence

24 OCT 2018

LIVE FROM BROADBAND WORLD FORUM 2018, BERLIN: Howard Watson, CTIO of BT Group (pictured), called for greater operator collaboration to further drive convergence, as he detailed the company’s bid to build a leading position in the segment.

In a keynote session, Watson said BT aims to be at the forefront of “converged connectivity and services”, as both technology and consumer demand enable greater integration between networks.

“For years, our industry, telecoms, has been dominated by dividing lines…between fixed and wireless, between copper and fibre, between licensed and unlicensed spectrum, between broadcast and unicast, hardware and software.”

“But as someone who builds networks for a living, we now know this has completely blurred and actually navigating our way through that is critical for our future.”

Underpinning the drive for convergence is a shift in consumer demand: “For customers, it’s not about their Wi-Fi or their mobile connection or their fixed broadband, or even about their landline. It’s about how they get their connectivity as a whole,” Watson explained.

“We’ve recently at BT redefined our overall strategy, focused on that particular opportunity. It’s about being able to continue to differentiate ourselves through products that increasingly use a converged network and deliver great customer experience. And we can only do this through bringing together customer insight, technology convergence and network design to make this happen.”

Unsurprisingly, the executive said that “at the heart of our journey to one smart network will be 5G”. But, alongside this, the operator is looking to extend its voice platform (currently enabling services such as VoWi-Fi and VoLTE) to support voice convergence; offer a united hardware portfolio for home consumers to combine different access types; and upgrade its Wi-Fi estate.

Indeed, Watson pointed to the continued evolution of Wi-Fi as offering potential: “If you take the IMT2020 standards for 5G and overlay Wi-Fi 802.11ax, then there is a huge amount of commonality emerging in areas such as user data rates, spectral efficiency and quite a helpful delta in terms of capacity.”

Collaboration
Watson wrapped up his presentation by calling for a greater collaboration in the industry: “Last year I asked our industry and our vendor partners to think end-to-end about the various technologies that will work together to deliver what our customers really want from their network, and I’m impressed by how we have progressed that over the past year. But I believe that collectively we can do better.”

“I was inspired by the Telecom Infra Project Summit that we had a couple of weeks ago in London, because actually it’s one of the first times I’ve seen operators truly sharing results of trials, working for the greater good of driving capabilities for our customers,” he continued.

“I think this year is an appeal to my fellow operators to truly come together in more than just standards bodies, to come together in sharing the results of field trials, working on getting this converged technology right for the good of our customers by driving more and more collaboration in a more agile way in our industry.”

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