Accenture: Better Wireless Networks are the Foundation for 5G

Accenture: Better Wireless Networks are the Foundation for 5G

September 7, 2016
Consumers are ready for a 5G world. With content streaming through more devices in our homes to high smartphone ownership rates, “we are consuming as much bandwidth as is being provided," said Tejas Rao, managing director with Accenture’s Communications, Media and High-Tech Network practice. “Everybody is going to an all-you-can-eat data because of the amount of consumption inside the home and outside the home.”

How can wireless providers feed this huge demand today while planning for the 5G networks of tomorrow?

To get there, Rao argues, the companies that build the backbone of digital connectivity will need to strategically redirect their investment in ways that are both more profitable today and lay the groundwork for new technology in the next several years.

Specifically, Rao says that means culling “a fair bit of fat” from existing networks initially over-built because the industry lacked today’s advanced modeling capabilities.

In doing so, companies free up resources to make network upgrades based more sensitive monitoring of how their networks are actually being used on a day-to-day basis. Ultimately, this leads to automating the configuration of the network and further reducing current expenses.

“Those are the building blocks that you need anyway [today] and you’ve got a bit of time to build up to 5G. The reality is we’re two to three years out,” before 5G networks will be in place, Rao said. “The technology is getting there fast. Now it’s a question of, ‘do the operators transform their own operating model to leverage that technology that’s coming?’”

That’s a key question given a possible thousand-fold expansion in the number of wireless sites from today’s approximately 100,000 LTE locations, Rao said.

A chief obstacle still to be overcome: interoperability and security as mobile consumers move between different network technologies.

“The more seamlessly we can make all these networks work together and be able to talk to each other is the goal for the end user. For them, it’s just connectivity,” Rao said. “It doesn’t matter how it gets there.”

Rao says events like CTIA Super Mobility help catalyze discussions that get the industry to confront such obstacles.

“What I’m excited about is getting a group of innovators and wireless subject matter experts all in one location to understand how they’re seeing [today’s challenges] from their lens,” Rao said. “What are the next start-ups looking at? What is the drone technology or mapping technology that you could leverage to really make the next applications seamless and exciting? You rarely get a chance to get a consortium of individuals that are very mobility-centric or wireless-centric in one location.”
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