Eurobites: Telecom Italia Demos 5G-Powered Remote Surgery

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: 5G's Bastille day; T-Systems gets edgy; O2 does security deal with Sophos; Macron won't pick on Huawei.

  • Remote surgery is fast becoming operators' go-to showcase for how 5G can literally be a life-changing technology. Now Telecom Italia (TIM) has got in on the act, using 5G-powered immersive reality to allow a leading authority on surgical technologies, Professor Giorgio Palazzini, to remotely operate on a patient in an operating theater through the use of a virtual reality visor connected over 5G to three simulcasting cameras in the operating theater. The technology allowed Professor Palazzini to zoom in on important details, while in the same view showing the live image of the patient's internal organs, thanks to a web-connected laparoscopic camera. The whole procedure was livestreamed to more than 30,000 surgeons around the world.

  • In what is, by comparison with the above, a more frivolous demonstration of the wonders of 5G, UK mobile operator EE used augmented reality technology to livestream a performance by rock band Bastille to fans hundreds of miles away equipped with Nreal's mixed reality glasses and 5G smartphones. According to EE's breathless blurb, the "audio-visual extravaganza was presented as a 360-degree experience, giving fans a front row seat at Bastille's unique performance, complete with stunning augmented reality graphics, which featured city walls tumbling down, yetis and digital trains, making it a commute to remember."

  • Deutsche Telekom's IT services arm, T-Systems, has introduced an edge computing platform intended for use in production and logistics environments. Called EdgAIR, it works directly on site, says the company, negating the need to send data via a central computer center.

  • Telefónica UK, the mobile operator that trades under the O2 brand, is to offer security offerings from Sophos to its small and midsized business customers. Those signing up will be granted access to the Sophos Central cloud-based security platform to deploy, configure and manage their services.

  • Another day, another European leader sounds off about Huawei: Reuters reveals that when asked about potential security risks posed by the controversial Chinese vendor, French President Emmanuel Macron said that he would never look to stigmatize any particular telecoms company, or any particular country for that matter. (See Eurobites: Germany Cools on Huawei's 5G Future and Eurobites: Our 5G Door Is Open, Germany Tells Huawei.)

  • The number of "superfast" (30 Mbit/s or faster) broadband access lines in France has reached 10.6 million, representing a 2.3 million year-on-year increase in subscribers and 36% of all French broadband customers. This is the headline finding from the latest broadband "scoreboard" from communications regulator Arcep, a report which also found that majority of the growth continues to be in the "AMII Zones," those parts of the country where the Government has issued a call for investment letters of intent.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

  • tcsillag83 12/9/2019 | 12:15:39 PM
    Um, why? 5G surgery is neat, but is there a reason why an infrastructure-intensive place like a hospital can't have wired connectivity? Maybe even fiber? Or will this be a use-case where the OR will be on a truck in the middle of nowhere, first responder style, while the surgeon is in a hospital?
    Duh! 12/2/2019 | 3:35:22 PM
    Re: Remote surgery? Clarification from another source.

    It turns out that Dr. Professor Palazinni wasn't directly manipulating the laproscopic surgical device, other than its cameras. His role was to consult and apparently to teach the attending surgeons.

    Reading between the lines, it sounds like what he ordinarily does from his office via WiFi. In other words, the demo was a nothing burger.

    There are some great applications for 5G's functional advancements. This isn't one of them.
    Duh! 12/2/2019 | 10:57:22 AM
    Remote surgery? Would you sign the consent form for that operation? I sure wouldn't. 

    A long talk with an actual expert on wireless networking in health care confirmed what I already suspected. Remote surgery, particularly over mobile networks, addresses a problem that doesn't exist, nor does it fit in with the realities of hospitals and health care systems. He actually considers the whole idea to be laughable. So would his employer's lawyers.

    -- Dan Grossman

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