Ask Brendan O’Reilly, CTO of O2, (as we did at Telecoms World Middle East) about the prospects for the next year or so and you will find he is not only bullish but also very business-focused. He sees 2021 as the year where the transition between non-standalone 5G and standalone 5G begins to truly happen and that provides some exciting possibilities.
Right now, non-standalone 5G is providing greater capacity and speed for their consumer customers, while standalone needs to focus on value and outcomes for customers. The focus will swing towards the enterprise market, which will bring its own challenges, its own devices and its own scalability issues.
O’Reilly believes we have been lucky with 5G because the transition from non-standalone to standalone has provided a bridge that is allowing the industry to learn from early versions. It is ironic, he says, that the industry delivered the promises of 3G with 4G.
5G is part of a tool kit that will allow telcos to concentrate on delivering outcomes not just technology. And it will hinge on collaboration with a variety of partners.
The company also learned lessons from the pandemic. One is that devices can remain static and during the pandemic, O2 ran its network understanding that need.
O’Reilly is also proud that networks were able to adapt to the sudden and unexpected demands of the pandemic. Astonishingly – perhaps – demand for voice was equal to nine years’ worth within the first 24 hours of lockdown. The networks were able to adapt to the need for families to talk to each other (and teenagers discovered that they could use their device to ‘talk’ to friends).
The O2 CTO also believes that he can deliver on the myths of 5G. The vision for cities in 2030 and 2040 is definitely achievable, he says, but only with collaboration.
No one party has the full answer.
Related article from 2018, and we may have been terribly wrong! Voice is dead. The numbers are in – the verdict is final. What now?