The 5G revolution begins

It’s been a whirlwind few months since I joined Colt, particularly in the last month with speaking assignments at three big events on the future of 5G and mobile connectivity.

First I attended the Big 5G event in Denver, where I was part of a panel on ‘Virtualization & the 5G Cloud’. It was clear from the discussions that the route to full virtualization is underway but there are a number of unresolved questions on how the mobile & cellular network will be fully impacted and the timeline to get there.

I was not the only speaker from Colt at the event as our Global Head of Network on Demand, Mirko Voltolini, shared what we have learnt from five years of designing, building and operating an On Demand network that leverages Network Function Virtualization (NFV) & Software Defined Networking (SDN). During this fireside chat with Editor in Chief of Light Reading, Ray Le Maistre, Mirko covered the evolution of Management and Orchestration (MANO) architectures, the importance of MANO to NFV/telco cloud/5G and the sourcing conundrum.

I enjoyed the opportunity to hear from US operators and global entities on the key topics of the event, which included automation, scaling NFV in a service provider environment, edge computing and the monetisation of 5G.

During the keynote sessions, one panel member stated that by 2020, 5G will be one of the fastest growing mobile technologies of all time with a total of 51 operators launching in this period. The key takeaways were that the technology has tremendous promise, it is a critical juncture in the sector and that there will be a race amongst firms to implement and outlay 5G. This ties in nicely with the news that here in the UK, EE launched their 5G offering on the 30th May with Vodafone planned for a July 3rd 5G launch. It is great to see the 5G revolution getting underway and the first stage starting.

The second big event of the month was Small Cell World Summit in London, where I spoke on the topic of ‘SDN agile transport for neutral hosting’.  The Neutral Host ecosystem for both outdoor and indoor coverage was a key discussion point at the conference.   I was pleased to be an active participant in that conversation through my presentation and panel session whilst also engaging in the numerous conversations that took place at the Colt exhibition booth during the event. There were also some really interesting insights shared during the Smart City session by City of London Borough, the City of Amsterdam and the Dublin Docklands, where the importance of a Neutral Host/ 3rd Party to avoid negotiating with all Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) was highlighted.

Finally I travelled to the NGON/DCI event in Nice to present and participate in a discussion on xHaul delivery and the future of backhaul transport networks.  With the audience not being mobile centric, I took the opportunity to explain the challenge facing MNOs when providing the future Radio Access Network (RAN) architectures for differing use cases and opportunities with very different requirements over the same network infrastructure.   The challenge is that operators require flexibility in their transport networks and a SDN enabled network, like the Colt IQ Network, provides a template of the platform that can give that flexibility.

Events like these make me even more excited to be a part of the 5G revolution, and it was great to see first-hand the opportunity that Colt is perfectly placed to deliver on.

Mark Gilmour is Head of Mobile Connectivity Solutions at Colt.

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