One of 5G’s biggest proponents and Chief Executive of one of the UK’s leading operators headlined on the London Tech Week main stage on the first day of TechXLR8 today.
EE CEO, Marc Allera, delivered his keynote address to a filled to capacity crowd on 5G and the Connected Future.
As there is no application that can currently use a 428Mps bandwidth in the UK, Allera stated that: “We cannot progress as a digital economy if we only build a network for what people are using today.” According to Allera, EE “are building for capabilities that customers don’t even know they will need yet.”
EE are looking to build, innovate and invest to stay ahead of the trends. There are many possible applications of 5G and it is often difficult to know where the next major increase in data usage will come from. A case in point was the unprecedented demand for data after the launch of Pokémon Go last year. Allera believes the next wave of mobile trends will be found in the AR sector and will change customer behaviour considerably. He hopes that 5G “will give us the perception of infinite capacity” to enable all of these future data uses.
Allera discussed how EE used to see huge peaks in data use during commuter times, but now their graphs are closing, denoting that there are no down times in data usage today. The recent Champions League final did not cause a period of low data usage as we would have seen a few years ago during major sporting events. There has been an unprecedented data explosion according to the EE CEO, and the EE network now carries more data in a month than it did for the entire year during 2011. Allera believes this is going to triple between now and 2020.
To ensure EE keeps up with these projections, Allera states that EE “needs to build a more consistent network and customer service for this demand. We have more coverage than ever before but we have more work to do.”
Looking to the future of 5G, Allera outlined two applications where the next generation could really be transformative. The first is healthcare. 5G could bring about huge advancements in connected health in terms of health apps and wearables. Using these will keep people in better shape and could potentially save our health service a lot of money. But there are many more possible uses. “With zero latency could we see a surgeon in the UK operate on people in other countries? Maybe.”
Allera also pointed to Connected Cars as a transformative use of 5G networks. Whilst these vehicles will not rely on connection to a mobile network, “5G will make them safer,” by enabling advanced real-time communication of information.
Allera finished up his presentation by looking back on the launch of 4G. At this time the UK was in 45th position in terms of its mobile network service, ranked behind countries such as Armenia and Azerbaijan. “Do we want to be the 45th country to launch 5G?” Allera asked. He wants the opportunity for the UK to be first, but this will require the right regulatory framework, ambition and a clear focus on what customers need.