BT, Orange see FWA 5G as digital driver - Mobile World Live

BT, Orange see FWA 5G as digital driver

03 SEP 2018

LIVE FROM OPERATIONS TRANSFORMATION FORUM 2018: A key driver of operators’ digital transformation initiatives is the convergence of fixed and mobile networks as part of the move to 5G, executives from BT Group and Orange explained.

Fotis Karonis, MD of mobile and voice converged services at BT’s mobile arm EE (pictured), naturally pointed to the operator group’s strong position in both fixed and mobile broadband markets as an opportunity in the 5G era. However, he also noted it is something of a challenge due to the “big amount of homes that we need to address” and the push to deliver “coverage to every corner of the UK.”

BT can draw on its experience of integrating EE’s mobile network with its fixed broadband infrastructure and Karonis noted 4G has already started to deliver a boost to subscribers’ broadband experience in the home. This, he noted, “will be a very good indicator for next steps of using mobile in areas” lacking in fixed broadband infrastructure and, in time, lay the foundations for deploying fixed wireless access (FWA) 5G.

Convergence is “very important for the consumer experience as well as the enterprise experience,” Karonis explained. To achieve it, BT is bringing more assets into its 4G network, reducing “the amount of spectrum we have on other networks” and targeting the introduction of five-carrier aggregation (5CA) to boost its existing infrastructure and create “ample capacity for growth” in 5G.

FWA will also lead Orange’s 5G rollout, though like BT its initial motivation is to close current fixed broadband coverage gaps, SVP of quality operations and performance Roberto Kung (pictured, right) noted.

The operator is initially focusing on consumer services because it needs more capacity, Kung explained. In time, it will begin to consider use cases beyond the consumer market, including expanding its mobile broadband coverage and deploying massive IoT services.

Orange must also focus on the “needs of transformation for operation to get ready for 5G,” Kung noted.

Operators are already well prepared for the transformational challenges presented by a new generation of mobile technology. The SVP highlighted the fact 2G was a challenge because it was an all-new technology; 3G brought the complexity of adding IP into the mobile network; and 4G offered clear obstacles in the form of VoLTE and VoWi-Fi.

But, with Orange gearing up to name its initial 5G launch cities in Europe, “we need really to prepare our operation” for what will be a whole new level of complexity.

While Kung noted Orange would like to rollout initial 5G services in 2019 when the first compatible smartphones become available, it is working towards full commercial launches in 2020.

One element which remains outside the operator’s control, however, is differences in spectrum throughout Europe, Kung noted.



Michael Carroll

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