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Connectivity promises of 5G and eSIM, and update on radiation risks. Takeaways from the Beltug N-sight: 17 September 2019


Date:17/09/2019


5G promises to be much more than a ‘next step’ in mobile communications – it undertakes to change the game entirely. To go beyond ‘best effort’, into a communication world offering SLAs, no latency and unimaginable potential applications.

 

In our N-sight of 17 September 2019, we invited experts to share with us their perceptions of our mobile business, including the impact of 5G and of eSIMs for business, concerns about radiation and health, and much more.

 

The presentations from the N-sight are available for our members (after login). Takeaways and feedback will be published soon.

 

 

 

5G in industrial operations

 

An astounding 44% of industrial organisation have connectivity issues, complicated by:

  • lack of coverage
  • poor signal reliability
  • lack of network speed
  • high cost/investment requirement
  • network latency.

 

said Frédéric Vander Sande, Vice President TMT, as he began the joint presentation with Stefaan Vyverman,  Sr. Managing Consultant, of Capgemini.

 

And while companies are very aware that 5G is coming: there is less understanding of what it will mean for them. Stefaan explained that 5G will go beyond connectivity itself, to offer the first mobile business platform.  This opens up the possibility of a wide range of services, many of which haven’t even been invented yet.

 

The level of interest, or ‘appetite’, for 5G varies by sector (slide 6): aerospace, defence, manufacturing and infrastructure show the highest eagerness to implement 5G in the next 2 years. Companies are also willing to pay more for 5G benefits – more than the telcos think (slide 7).

 

However, the road to 5G contains a lot of potholes and disruptions, Frédéric and Stefaan explain. Because of this, they don’t expect to see commercial 5G before 2022 (slides 8-9).

 

So where should companies be now in the 5G voyage? Now is the right time for the stakeholders – government, telcos and businesses – to prepare:

  • Assess key connectivity requirements and limitations of existing technology portfolio
  • Engage with 5G ecosystem to set up pilots, prove value and weigh in on telcos’ offers
  • Identify the appropriate implementation model for 5G
  • Continuously improve and adapt connectivity strategy to digital transformation priorities and 5G’s evolution path to maximize the ROI

 

 

The future of mobile technologies

 

What are the megatrends to expect from mobile and intelligent technology?  Fabrizio Cortesi, Director EU Policy and Strategy of Huawei, shared the company’s global vision of ubiquitous connectivity, pervasive intelligence, personalized experience and digital platform (slide 2).

There are 5 pillars that will enable 5G, he continued:

  • SDN (Software Defined Network)
  • Network Function Virtualization (NFV)
  • SON (Self Organizing Networks)
  • Network Slicing,
  • Massive MIMO

(slide 3)

 

The real change (i.e. disruption) of 5G will be connectivity, Fabrizio shares: using the service and its Quality of Service requirements to determine what network configuration and structure to use (i.e. a virtual network slice).

5G is more than just another business, he emphasised: it will impact key economic issues including public services, agriculture, information and communications, transport, etc.  The energy-efficiency of 5G will have a further socio-economic impact, touching everything from education, to food availability (slide 8).

 

Wrapping up, Fabrizio shared his conclusions:

  • 5G is not just faster; it’s a new paradigm
  • Standards benefit consumers and companies by lowering investment and deployment costs, to facilitate connectivity and foster interoperability
  • Multiple spectrum bands are needed to address the wide range of 5G use cases and applications
  • Governments and regulators define 5G plans and initiatives, with greater transparency in regulatory policies

(slide 17)

 

 

eSIM: threat or opportunity for mobile operators?

 

We then turned from 5G to eSIMs, with Kristof Vanhuffel, Product Marketing Manager Mobile Connectivity,

of Telenet. eSIMs are not so new, Kristof began: they have been around since 2012 and mainly used for M2M applications. But they offer a lot of opportunities for consumers and for businesses (slide 6).

 

eSIMs make the activation flow much easier: with a QR code (physical or digital), an MNO app, GSMA Discovery Server… And they offer real benefits for consumers, as well as businesses and operators (slides 8-10).

 

But for operators there are also risks:

  • Losing the customer relationship to Google, Apple and/or OEMs
  • Competing with other operators in the platforms of Apple and others
  • Dynamic over-the-air provisioning making it easy for customers to change the operator
  • Infrastructure investments
  • Lack of a unified onboarding process between device manufacturers
  • Security and data protection

 

New opportunities await us in the near future, with devices that cost less, are smaller, are waterproof, and offer a '1 model fits all' concept. We’ll be seeing new players and business models, as well, while traditional industries will become connected (slide 13 highlights the use case of the automotive industry).

 

 

Health effects of exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields

 

Electromagnetic radiation has increased around us, with the popularity and high adoption of smart and wireless devices (not just 5G), we learned from Prof. dr. ir. Guy Vandenbosch, Radiation Expert at KU Leuven. Research shows that it can impact our health (slide 23-27).

After explaining the technical aspects of EM fields, and the different technologies (from radio, to GSM, to DECT, etc.), Guy introduced a 'pragmatic' approach to the problem. Rather than ALARA (As Low as Reasonably Achievable), he recommends ALATA: As Low as Technically Achievable.

 

He explains:

  • Our entire society benefits from the availability of wireless communications. Therefore, the systems need to work.
  • But with the technology available at any time, there is an exposure level below which the systems cannot function.
  • We need to know that level. That means we need exposure measurement campaigns.
  • Once we know the ‘ALATA level’, we can take concrete actions to reduce our exposure, indoors and outdoors.

(slides 34-39)

 

To conclude, Guy highlighted that ALATA levels are dynamic, and needs to be modified when our perception of ‘connectivity needs’ changes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

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