LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 LATIN AMERICA, MEXICO: Speakers from Cisco, Ericsson and Qualcomm reflected on the scale of change to networks required in the future shift to 5G.
Jose Ayala (pictured), Ericsson’s head of government and industry relations for Latin America, described the “enormous opportunity of transformation for industry and society”, with operators at centre stage.
The company’s 2016 Mobility Report forecast 28 billion connected devices by 2021.
Ayala highlighted the contrasting demands on a network, from serving large numbers of low-power sensors in industrial settings against a smaller number of low-latency, big bandwidth devices that require high availability of service.
Meanwhile Hector Marin, senior director – government affairs, Qualcomm, cited three pillars to 5G – enhanced mobile broadband, mission critical services and massive IoT.
Like Ayala, he highlighted the scale of connectivity, the billions of devices added to the network through applications such as telemetry, each generating small amounts of data. “This represents a great challenge. How can we get all this? This is what the operators are working on…They have to solve it.”
He is looking for a 5G design that unites licensed, shared licensed and unlicensed spectrum.
Meanwhile, according to Ericsson’s Ayala, “the main challenge is to modernise the network architecture.” The current network is oriented for people, he said, but now needs to perform in a more agile way.
The architecture must evolve to deliver network functions between applications and hardware via virtualisation, SDN, distributed cloud, and network slicing.
“This will not happen overnight, it will take many years,” he said.
Ericsson’s initial experience is that operators want to use these new capabilities to reduce deployment time for new services, starting with individual applications then moving to all services as operators gain trust.
Legacy and virtualised networks will co-exist, said Ayala.
Continuing what has been a major theme here, Jordi Botifoil, president for Latin America at Cisco, said that all technology vendors have an “obligation” to build networks which are able to deliver services securely, as the number of connected devices spirals.
“We are talking about billions of devices that are the entry point to the network today,” he commented.