June 18, 2019

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NExsT Forum 2019, NYC: fibre is key to 5G network deployment

Speakers at 2nd NExsT conference in New York brainstormed about how to fully realize 5G potential

Telecommunications executives gathered for a day of brainstorming, roundtables and insight sharing at the second edition of NExsT in New York City on April 11, to strategize about how to fully realize the potential of fifth generation networks (5G) and the Internet of Things.

These ultra-fast networks are already starting to roll out in 2019, and bring huge benefits beyond just lightning-quick download times for smartphones. 5G networks are needed to enable new technologies like self-driving cars, smart cities, robotic factories and less wasteful farming practices – potentially therefore reducing greenhouse gases.
 
As a global leader in the manufacture of optical fibre, and the world’s largest producer of telecoms cables, Prysmian Group has a close understanding of the benefits of this technology. The NExsT Forum provides a platform to explore today’s key connectivity, optical fibre and infrastructure issues through the views and insights of industry leaders, helping to shape the future direction of new technology development. The first edition was organized by Prysmian in Paris in 2018. The discussions at NExsT centreed around the need for collaboration across the industry to build successful 5G networks. The “wireless” 5G network is really not wireless at all. It relies deeply on fibre as a backbone, and fibre optics cable networks are key to unlocking this potential. Deloitte Consulting predicted in 2017 that an investment of $130–$150 billion in fibre infrastructure would be needed over the next five to seven years in the United States.

Prysmian Group’s EVP for Telecom Business Philippe Vanhille kicked off the day with a welcome speech that focused on how the industry needs to work together to make 5G become a reality.

“We all have to keep working together to make 5G happen,” said Vanhille.

His intro laid the groundwork for other speakers to look at what sort of technology, business applications and regulations will need to be in place as 5G networks get up and running.

This is not a futuristic scenario. The same day of the conference, US telecoms operator Verizon “switched on” two 5G networks in the US, in certain parts of downtown Chicago and in Minneapolis. It aims to roll it out to 30 other US cities in 2019.

Verizon’s Glenn Wellbrock shared some of the insights his team found in deploying the company’s 5G tests, saying that they are laying a lot more cable than ever before.

 “Fibre is the foundation of all 5G deployments,” said Wellbrock, Director of optical transport network architecture at Verizon.
Fiber Broadband Association CEO Lisa Youngers looked at the various ways that fibre is critical for 5G and IOT, and discussed how to best support the 5G deployment in rural areas, and the importance of fibre infrastructure both federally and locally.

“5G means a lot of different things to different people and it depends on who you ask,” said Youngers.

The ways in which the 5G network can boost digital transformation was the main topic for Ken Paker, CTO of TDS Telecommunications.
 
“The core of 5G is a digitally transformed service provider,” he said. “Spend time and keep focused on the digital transformation.”

The afternoon roundtable was moderated by Jennifer Fritzsche of Wells Fargo Securities, and looked at creating the foundation for 5G networks. Verizon’s Senior Manager for Infrastructure Planning Christina Bassett of Verizon emphasized quality.

“When you build a network, you don’t want a five-year network, you want to be sure the network is of quality,” she said.

Prysmian Group will continue steadfastly contributing to the debate about the foundation of the Gigabit Society, working to ensure that focus is maintained on the infrastructure needs that will ultimately satisfy the digital demands of worldwide citizens.

 

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