LIVE FROM HUAWEI GLOBAL MBB FORUM 2018, LONDON: Arnaud Vamparys, senior VP of radio networks at Orange (pictured), urged the industry to work together to deliver ultra-low cost connectivity with 5G, while also reducing network energy consumption.

With just half of the world connected to the internet, he called on the industry “to progress from a technology point of view on a low-cost solution”.

“We want evolution in the 5G standards to push it to become a real low-cost solution. 4G hasn’t achieved sufficient evolution for that.”

In addition to its European operations, Orange delivers services to 117 million customers across 20 countries in Africa, “so the topic is very important to us”, Vamparys explained.

Energy costs account for a quarter of opex on the mobile side, making progress on reducing power requirements essential.

A third challenge he pointed to are the many architectural options with 5G: “We need to work together to simplify this complexity, one in non-standalone and one in standalone, to be able to move rapidly next year with the 5G introduction of SA mode.”

After running a variety of massive MIMO tests in 2017, Orange this year focused on end-to-end testing from device to application. With the arrival of the first 5G smartphones in 2019, it plans to deploy the technology in selected cities and will move to a full commercial launch once a sufficient number of devices are available.

Vamparys explained 5G is arriving at a difficult time for the European market, where fixed and mobile have converged and tariffs are increasingly commoditised: “Unit prices are still decreasing, putting pressure on operators to invest. And with more than 100 operators in Europe, we do think it’s time for the sector to consolidate,” he said.

However, he noted 5G brings three main benefits: the ability to rapidly add to its existing 4G networks to boost capacity in urban areas; deliver fibre-like experiences using mmWave technology; and create new opportunities with high reliability and low latency, making it possible to adapt quality-of-service to different applications.