What particularly irks Williams about densification is the lack of standardization in the area of fixed-mobile convergence (FMC). "We believe we will need this to deliver high data rates -- that we cannot do that only with mobile and that we need a combination," she said. "Is that easy? No. We have totally different networks and it will take a long time to do the migration, but we need to agree on a common road to that."
That puts some pressure on the standards developing organizations, or SDOs, to make sure that FMC is firmly on the agenda. And the most prominent of the lot has given it insufficient attention so far, according to Williams. "The Broadband Forum is on the way but the 3GPP is a bit behind in that respect because it is so focused on radio," she said.
But it is not all doom and gloom. Having complained in June that network slicing then lacked a clear definition, Deutsche Telekom now heralds signs of momentum in this area. "What we see today are operators and vendors and customers trying to describe what the requirements are for slicing," said Williams. "This is a common industry effort." (See DT: 5G Network Slicing Lacks Clear Definition.)
If it bears fruit, telcos should be able to provide a variety of differentiated network services over the same physical infrastructure. That will be critical as operators try to expand outside the consumer business and address industries like the automotive and healthcare sectors. "Network slicing will shorten the lead time for operators to provide services to enterprise customers," says Bengt Nordström, the CEO of the Northstream consulting group. "It will significantly lower the cost of providing, running and managing a service."
Even so, progress is undeniably needed in other areas if 5G is to live up to its original promise. The standard is different from previous generations of mobile technology, industry observers are regularly informed, because it involves an overhaul of network architecture -- even a new modus operandi. Yet as far as some operators are concerned, all we hear is radio gaga.
— Iain Morris, News Editor, Light Reading