We don’t know what 5G is, but it’s important.” – Leaders at Mobile World Congress #MWC14

In a star-studded panel here at MWC in Barcelona; we have been given insight from industry pioneers about the state of 5G and what we can expect. To sum it up, it’s very important… but we haven’t even started on forming what it actually is.

That doesn’t mean we don’t know what it should be, and that’s what today’s panel was here to discuss – alongside the impact on the wider economy.

With a panel consisting of minds from the European Commission, Nokia Solutions and Networks, Orange, Alcatel-Lucent, and Ericsson – the audience felt in safe hands we were getting the best knowledge available today about 5G’s direction; even if it felt very vague.

From left – Ulf (Ericsson), Mari-Noelle (Orange), Neelie Kroes (EU Commission), Hussein (5G-PPP), and Marcus (Alcatel)

Hossein Mooin, Executive Vice President at Nokia Solutions and Networks, kicked off the proceedings by being completely upfront: “I have no idea what 5G is. The reason being is that 5G is a network which will be defined in the future.”

As part of Nokia’s esteemed Solutions group, Mr Mooin knows one thing in particular… that the future network needs to more intelligent above all else. He gives an example of a driverless car and how quickly and reliably it would need to react if based on a network.

This reliability and quality of service follows into his next point; which states that whilst 5G is still early, he feels sure that it will be complementary to existing networks rather than a replacement.

Orange’s new Chief Technology Officer, Mari-Noëlle Jego-Laveissière, appears to agree with Mooin’s statements in that 5G needs to be quality and reliability-focused.

She states: “We need to put the quality of the experience at the core of 5G. Of course our customers want to be connected at high-speed 5G, but they want to be connected at all times.”

For those worrying, Mari affirms that “it should not be 4G+1… We need to focus on new services.” What kind of new services we can expect from 5G is a question which wasn’t elaborated upon; but at a guess; the Internet of Things and M2M trends will play a pretty big role in defining them.

Whatever is decided, it’s unanimously agreed that innovation will only occur through varies fields working together to form this next-generation of network…

Ulf Ewaldsson, Chief Technology Officer at Ericsson, sums this fact up: “We have a tradition in this industry of collaboration.”

He continues: “We have to invite companies that have not been part of this innovation before into this…” Most likely Ewaldsson speaks in regards to the knowledge of the many start-ups which have been founded specifically to create solutions and take advantage of the new opportunities presented by M2M, the Cloud, and other (mainly) unrealised technologies.

Bringing the experience and unique requirements of these new companies to more traditional vendors can help provide the infrastructure required to handle the future network and provide a quality, reliable backbone.

Ewaldsson makes it clear that it’s not just companies which need to come together for innovation; but also politicians to help break down some of the barriers preventing them today. Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission, sat on the panel and closed it with her remarks about this issue and why it has her personal backing…

“For me, this is the most important event of the whole conference – I can explain why…”

In a unique take, she steps away from the direct development and research of 5G, and instead looks at the wider economic benefits. Kroes first and foremost talks about the telecoms industry’s importance – arguably the foremost – for future employment.

“We are talking about an important development. Sometimes I get emotional about the situation in Europe. When people ask “what is your biggest worry at the moment?” I’d say youth and employment. It is important. We have opportunities in Europe.

The telco sector is of importance because it is linked with environment, e-health, automotive… you need a healthy telco sector. They need it to perform. I need your help in communicating this to the outside world.”

Kroes has been working hard to break down the barriers caused by such a complex telecoms market; moving it to a single telecoms market will simplify proceedings and allow innovation to flourish. She says: “28 countries have put their efforts together for a single telecoms market. It’s not finalised, but it’s there.”

What do you feel about these industry-leaders thoughts about “5G for the Connected Continent”?

To learn more about the Internet of Things visit IoT Tech Expo Europe in London’s Olympia, 2-3 December, 2015. 

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