The head of the UK Spectrum Policy Forum says bandwidth speed shouldn't be the only priority when it comes to taking the UK's mobile strategy forward.
Addressing an audience of over 120 telecoms industry experts, entrepreneurs and academics at the Cambridge Wireless (CW) Founders Dinner last week, professor Jim Norton, chair of the UK Spectrum Policy Forum, said reliability of mobile communications indoors were often more important than outside.
In his address at Downing College in Cambridge, Norton pointed to the spread of wireless in the home and office with DECT for old style telephony, Wifi, Bluetooth and Zigbee for data and the emergence of wireless energy transmission, which will further reinforce this trend.
And he added that overall reliability and latency (data delays) were sometimes more important issues than data speed, as the UK moves towards 5G networks.
Norton stressed to his audience the need to "define carefully" what the "real customer" needs and what the requirements are for 5G mobile, including better in-building as opposed to wide area connectivity. He said, “We must be careful what we wish for. The fact is that blistering speed is not necessarily the dominant requirement compared to other factors such as performance to the cell edge, latency, spectrum efficiency and battery life.”
Those currently using either 3G or 4G know only too well the drain on battery life and the data delays that can be caused when the services they are paying for skip to other networks using old GSM, GPRS and Edge technologies.
On 5G, Norton added, “Before anything else, the most important thing currently is to identify new spectrum for 5G in the UK and mainland Europe, along with the need to ensure that high bit rate coverage is ubiquitous across urban and rural areas.”
Norton said, “With wireless already displacing fixed networks as the final link in many areas of communication, it is essential that the next generation of mobile services are able to deliver the ubiquity, reliability and resilience that users now expect.
“Anything that customers currently do tethered to a fixed infrastructure - whether communications or power - they have grown to expect to be able to do with complete mobility.”
CW is an international community of companies involved in the research, development and application of wireless and mobile, internet, semiconductor and software technologies.
Norton is also an external member of the board of Parliament's Office of Science & Technology (POST), and has been hired by the Irish government to help oversee its state-led national broadband strategy.