5G was a focus at the DSP Leaders Summit – in a good way

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The DSP Leaders Summit, hosted last week by Telecom TV was always going to have an element of 5G about it. And sure enough, even though the panellists fended it off for as long as they could, eventually they – and the audience – succumbed.

What was refreshing about the event was that, whilst 5G was always going to be a focus, there was much more context than generally occurs at events. There was discussion about the ‘cloud vs telco’ issue (one cannot exist without the other so the point is not as gritty as people make out).

There was talk about investment in new technology and networks and who should make the margin on the services. As Neil McRae, Chief Architect with BT pointed out, while telcos make huge investments in networks, if you have ever been inside a Google data centre, you don’t make those out of a piece of string and a tube of glue. The investment is huge.

And so to 5G.

The most interesting insights into 5G were not about the technology, which was refreshing. It was about what we do with it and a couple of speakers came up with some gems. Josie Smith, Chief IT Architect with BT, for instance, said that there is now a fundamental shift in approach at the company, because 5G is so radically different. 5G will be about collaborative thinking not risk based thinking. It will address some historical and fundamental telco inefficiencies and ‘with 5G, you have to pretend it is your first day at a great new job and you have been given some very new and exciting tools to play with’. It allows even big telcos to go from ‘legacy’ thinking to unconstrained thinking.

There was a very interesting session, chaired by Chris Lewis of Lewis Insights, on where 5G will enable great things and while some verticals were mentioned (rail, ports, indoor environments) the panel of analysts believed that it will depend a lot on the local requirements and the size of the telco.

Ian Fogg, in charge of analysis at Opensignal made the point that one effective way of working out where 5G provides most benefit is to think about the situations where 4G is only just able to support the application or use case and that will be a good place to start. Dean Bubley of Disruptive Analysis mentioned that companies putting SIMs in cars was not simply to monitor the car’s functions, nor to make insurance more effective but actually to reduce warranty claims. By monitoring the car’s functions companies can more effective manage the wear and tear on parts and the savings can be substantial.

There were some great sessions and a positive, interactive and altogether ‘buzzy’ atmosphere at the event and as a first outing, Telecom TV are to be congratulated.

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