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Enterprises Need to Cut Through the Hype of 5G And Understand Its Applications for Them: MetTel’s CTO, Ed Fox

In an exclusive interview with Smart Industry News, CTO of MetTel, Ed Fox shares that we still haven’t fully realized the full potential of 4G LTE. With a new xG about every 10 years, each industry needs to figure out what 5G means to them and what applications really need.

In the next two years, which emerging technology do you think has the potential to transform the telecommunications sector in the US? 5G, IoT, Blockchain or any other? Why?

5G is transformational, we just need to cut through the hype of what’s real and what’s not. 5G is so different from other one-step wireless generation deployments (i.e. 3G, 4G etc.) as for the first time what’s leading the marketing hype is the applications and not the technology. 5G’s promise, at least how it is being marketed today, is contingent upon an enormous amount of tech innovation on both the consumer and the business side. There is a confluence of a handful of technologies that are enabling the 5G wireless network revolution but the focus is undoubtedly on the enabling of applications (driverless cars, remote robotic surgery, AR/VR etc.)  In the past, 4G, for example, was new speed and smartphones and the applications were built post wireless transformation. Enterprises really need guidance from someone they trust to cut through the hype and tell them why, when and for what they really need 5G and when lower-cost connectivity will still meet their objectives.

Blockchain, or the next, more consumable version of it, will permeate telecommunications networks and services. From carriers and cloud providers gaining the ability to provide blockchain-like security on enterprise data and backups, to charging for different parts of network use on a pay-as-you-go basis using blockchain, and on to applying blockchain like communications and logs between applications.

Ed Fox

Surveys suggest that consumers are still scared of data theft. How can telecommunications firms ensure that people feel safe?

Telecommunications firms, as well as enterprises with customer data, all can benefit from a fundamental change in the digital security mindset from “let’s stop the threat actors from getting into our network” to “assume the worst: threat actors are in our network. How do we prevent them from taking anything”? There probably is no way of protecting everything 100% today. But there are many stop gaps and hurdles to throw in the way. No human can do this alone anymore. AI needs to be employed to handle the volume of information and look for anomalies.

What is MetTel’s definition of a ‘trust network’?

A trust network is one that is built on Zero Trust, one that is purpose-built to be incrementally and very deliberately set up for point-to-point communication. Security is built into every transaction because no one is completely trustworthy, or put another way, no one is beyond being compromised. It starts with approval for all types of communication passing through a change management process.

With the power of social media, customers now just tweet if the service is down for a few minutes or an executive was rude. As MetTel has recently received the ‘Customer Service Department of Year,’ what according to you are the ideal ways for telecommunication companies to deal with such issues?

At MetTel, we have adopted a customer-first mindset and default to blaming ourselves first, so even when we miss on customer expectations – or the customer may have played a role in the issue -- we remain accountable, accepting responsibility and work to resolve the issue and move on to the resolution. The focus is on helping the customer, regardless of reason or fault.

How long will it take for a complete 5G adoption in the US? Which industry do you think needs it the most and must not delay in adopting the technology?

If you think about this, there is a new xG about every 10 years and we still haven’t fully realized the full potential of 4G LTE. I would say it will be 2023-2024 before mass adoption of 5G. There are still a lot of unknowns and variables. What each industry really needs to do is to figure out what 5G means to them and what applications really need 5G. Most applications we support do not require 5G, at least not today.

How big of a role do you think the service of ‘connected airplanes’ will affect the aviation industry or make an airline company stand out because of its better Wi-Fi service?

In terms of WiFi, I think it’s a critical component to attract and maintain business travelers. Planes are pretty well connected today, using many different communications technologies to transfer data. But there is clearly always room for improvement. If we think we can solve for gridlock traffic with connected cars then we should think that we can better control flight delays with hyper-connected airplanes.

Will we see AR/VR companies’ partner with telecommunication companies? How? What are the other such potential ‘unexpected’ partnerships that might happen in the coming few years between telecommunication industry and other industries for technology upgrades?

When we do our 5G briefings and knowledge transfers with the executive teams and board members at our clients, we prompt them to think of an AR/VR use case in their field as a 5G need. It seems to be the one application that every industry can find a use case for. So, when they are struggling to see a 5G app, we encourage them to consider this use case and then help them determine the network and infrastructure they would need to support such a deployment. I personally think phones used as glasses/contact lenses with data will be part of what telecommunications firms get involved in. I also think we will start to help customers with their application movements from different data centers and clouds which will enhance business continuity by serving as the new "disaster recovery."

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Meeta Ramnani

Meeta develops credible content about various markets based on deep research, opinions from experts and inputs from industry leaders. As the managing editor at Smart Market News, she assures that every piece of news and article adds to the knowledge of decision makers. An avid bike rider, Meeta, is a postgraduate from Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM) Bangalore, where her specialization was Business Journalism. She carries experience from mainstream print media including The Times Group and Sakal Media Group.

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