LIVE FROM FUTURE OF WIRELESS INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE, LONDON: BT – currently embarking on a charm offensive to ensure its £12.5 billion deal with mobile operator EE gets the regulatory green light – argued this morning that industry convergence between the fixed and wireless worlds will help cope with “voracious” data growth across networks.
Speaking at the event at the Emirates Stadium, the company’s MD of research and innovation, Tim Whitley, said industry innovation between the two segments was one of the key ways for mobile players and fixed operators to respond to up to 50 per cent year on year data growth on fixed networks, and up to 100 per cent on mobile.
According to Whitley, this rate of growth will continue, and lead to a 1000 fold increase in mobile data in the next five to seven years.
“We’re all facing massive growth and it’s a good thing for a telecoms company but it’s also a challenge,” he said. “The very nature of capacity is becoming different and customer demands are always rising. This means we have to look into new ways to deal with that. The UK is the leader in fixed VDSL networks among the main five major economies in Europe at the moment, but this won’t mean anything in the next decade and evolution is necessary.”
Whitley outlined a number of ways traditional cellular and mobile are working together at the moment, and urged the industry to continue with this pace of innovation to meet consumer demand. “By using technology and innovation better, we are helping each other,” he said. “There is now an increase in the amount of offload from LTE to WiFi, and working together on the development of 5G, evolving from 3G to 4G, will put us in a better position. The sheer topology of the networks will also see an unrelenting pace of innovation. We will move to hundreds of thousands of base stations in the form of femto cells and small cells.”
During the presentation, BT also outlined its plans for the evolution of its core network, which it says has had to change every ten years to keep up with the rate of demand.
The company is now trialling multiple terabit speeds, as it looks to accommodate IoT and big data, “which is breathing new life into copper and core networks”, said Whitley.
“There’s a deeper level of convergence between fixed and wireless, and it means we are unlikely to see a capacity crunch in 10 years,” he said. “IoT and big data will allow us to do things on the fixed side that we haven’t done before. We haven’t seen anything yet.”