PwC principal: Line between LTE and 5G is ‘blurry’
In the run up to the inaugural Mobile World Congress Americas, kicking off Sept. 12 in San Francisco, Dan Hays, a principal at PwC, shared his thoughts on the dominant themes of the expo. In an interview with RCR Wireless News, Hays hit on the traction around gigabit LTE and discussed what that means for 5G.
“Right now, quite frankly, the lines between LTE and 5G are extremely blurry. You can almost think about 5G as being virtually synonymous with gigabit LTE in some ways. 5G really is, at this time, more of a basket of technologies than it is a step-level change in the signaling protocol for networks. We are seeing a lot of operators focusing more on carrier aggregation, and adding spectrum into the LTE network coupled with cherry picking some technologies that are part of the 5G portfolio. You definitely do see a lot of focus on not waiting for 5G but continuing to advance the capability of LTE networks.”
He continued: “The harsh reality of the mobile industry at the moment is that the profitability profile” supports a “more evolutionary type of approach to advancing networks as opposed to the last couple of decades where there have been large scale overlays.”
Hays also discussed the interest, particularly in the U.S., around 5G fixed wireless access. AT&T and Verizon are both actively testing 5G FWA using millimeter wave transmission to deliver enhanced home broadband and related services over a wireless link rather than the costly and time-consuming alternative of running fiber to the home or the premises.
“In our view, the push toward fixed wireless access is being driven by several factors. The fact is that is is easier to trial a fixed solution than it is a mobile solution, particularly at these very high bandwidths that millimeter wave spectrum offers. Second, which is maybe more important, fixed wireless access offers an opportunity for the mobile operators to grow into a new customer segment and a new set of services that is currently dominated by others. It offers some growth opportunity for an industry that is starting to top out in terms of organic growth. The third one is fixed wireless access is also arguably a recognition that convergence is upon us and that the mobile operators, in order to move toward 5G, are going to need deeper, bigger fiber networks to operate themselves, and to essentially create backhaul for much denser wireless networks. In some ways fixed wireless access sets up the mobile network operators to also begin competing with the cable companies that are gradually moving into wireless.”