BT chief executive Gavin Patterson has said he expects to see mobile operators and telcos start to flesh out the business case for building 5G mobile networks soon.
Speaking at Huawei’s Mobile Broadband Forum in London, he said this could possibly happen within the next quarter. He explained that the internet of things (IoT), smart cities and autonomous vehicles will be some of the main drivers pushing businesses to invest in 5G.
Mr Patterson said: “We need to finish the job on 4G. We need to make sure we get return on investment. We need to make sure we truly get the use of mobile networks up.
“Then we need to build the use case for 5G – clearly the innovation is there – but ultimately, as carriers, we have to make a significant investment and put capex down, and the business case for that still needs to be built in many ways.”
He explained that this will still be about mobile broadband, and that carriers should ensure they are able to build capacity and monetise that innovation. He added that, in terms of cost, a “massive upgrade” to the network is required, with many more points of presence needing to be funded.
Mr Patterson called for the industry to focus its 5G research and development efforts on ensuring a seamless and ubiquitous customer experience on 5G alongside 4G and Wi-Fi, and on bringing down the cost of the equipment, which he said would be a significant help to operators.
At the event, BT-owned EE demonstrated the UK’s first test of an end-to-end 5G mobile network architecture, which delivered a consistent download speed of 2.8Gbps and achieved sub-five millisecond latency over a fully virtualised core on commercially available hardware.