At the 5G Symposium at the Mobile News XPO, speakers discussed how the new technology would open fresh opportunities such as dynamic spectrum sharing, network slicing and health applications
The 5G Symposium at last year’s Mobile News XPO was such a hit that it deserved a follow-up session to take stock of what happened in 2019.
The 2020 event brought together executives from Samsung, EE and O2 under the expert moderation of CCS Insight.
UK launches of 5G over the past year act as “an innovation enabler and a catalyst for growth”, said Samsung vice president of sales for UK and Ireland James Kitto.
The session, chaired by CCS Insight chief of research Ben Wood, was also made up of BT/EE executive advisor for 5G Fotis Karonis and O2 head of innovation strategy and architecture Karl Liriano.
Vodafone UK head of networks Andrea Dona and Three deputy chief operating officer Patrick Binchy had been scheduled to appear but were forced to pull out due to coronavirus travel bans from on high.
Kitto noted the industry was just at the start of a range of new experiences enabled by 5G, with Samsung seeing a significant uplift in devices using the technology and expecting 90 per cent of handsets in its latest S20 series to be 5G variants.
“We’re seeing a lot of younger users interested in 5G phones,” he said. “People are now beginning to upgrade to these phones because they’re seeing the benefits, and 5G will be a considered factor when choosing a phone.
“Consumers are holding onto their handsets for longer, but they also understand they need to make a great choice to future-proof the hardware-buying decision.”
Kitto added that Samsung plans to lower its prices for 5G devices as the technology becomes further embedded in its range.
Meanwhile, Wood noted that 5G allows operators dynamic spectrum sharing capabilities that would have been a major story at the Mobile World Congress had the annual showcase gone ahead last month.
The term refers to operators having the capability to deliver both 4G and 5G services within the same spectrum, enabling a smooth transition between the two technologies. This subsequently allows for a more cost-effective rollout of 5G and helps accelerate deployment.
Karonis said: “Dynamic spectrum sharing needs funding from all sides and it is a big step if we can achieve it as soon as possible.”
Each spokesperson also said network slicing, which allows operators to provide multiple virtual networks to be created on top of a common shared infrastructure, would be a key component in the future of 5G networks because of the multitude of use cases and new services that the technology will support.
“It allows you to provide services dynamically based on geolocation and there is a plethora of things you can do with it,” said Liriano.
He added that slicing could work in congested areas, helping consumers get the level of network performance they wanted.
In addition, the speakers discussed the ability of 5G to open up possibilities far beyond fast mobile connections.
Karonis spoke, for example, of 5G’s ability to address societal problems such as healthcare, whereby medics can identify problems with patients and determine whether they need to be transferred to a medical facility.
“5G is not just here to enable a gaming experience, the wider effects of it are industry influencing,” he says. “Telecoms is now a part of every industry and healthcare is an area that hasn’t changed in around 60 years.”