Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Lots more to do before 5G arrives

LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 NORTH AMERICA: After acknowledging the success of LTE in the North American market to date, Tony Melone, EVP and CTO of Verizon, highlighted three areas that he sees as critical for the future development of the 4G technology – IoT, unlicensed LTE, and interoperability. 

“There’s lots more for us as an industry to do, and some in the globe have done very well, and others are a little behind. And quite frankly in the US we’ve been one of the leaders in 4G LTE, and that’s because we’ve invested big. That hasn’t been an accident, it hasn’t been inevitable,” he said. 

Describing LTE as the first true mobile internet technology, the executive said that the internet of things will “absolutely be one of the key evolutions in the next three or four years.” “Today we have lots of standalone traditional devices, wear-ables, TVs, cars, you’ve heard about that. 

But the next step to really get to that promise of billions of devices, we need application-specific devices: very unique for serving specific applications, very low cost at scale, on a purpose-built architecture that can handle those amounts of connections,” he said “You will see that evolution happen over the next three or four years, is my prediction. That will drive the economies of scale, coupled with global standards, that will make this a tremendous step,” he continued. 

Moving on to the potential for 4G LTE using unlicensed spectrum, Melone said that this will be “a key ingredient to continue to spur innovation and evolution”. “Wi-Fi is a great technology, will be here for a long, long time, will continue to have a place. And unlicensed spectrum will continue to have a place too. But I believe 4G LTE will be able to leverage that unlicensed spectrum in a way that will enhance the customer experience,” he observed. 

Finally, moving onto interoperability, the executive said that “this is one where it’s core to our industry, it’s what our industry has done for years, but it’s an area where we are lagging, especially with 4G LTE”. “We need 4G LTE data roaming, we need that seamless capability we love, and we need it to happen quickly. It ties back to this ubiquity and the importance of this global standard”, he said. And Melone insisted the operator isn’t getting caught up in industry hype surrounding any future deployment of 5G technology. Noting that the technology is unlikely to be standardised and fully available for consumer testing until around 2018, he stated that it is too early for Verizon – or any operator – to have a roadmap for 5G rollout.