Telco execs conjure concepts of 5G, ‘zero touch network’

LOS ANGELES – At the ongoing MEF18 conference being held in this city, top telecom executives brought up their technology trends that may shape the industry in the next 2 to 5 years.

AT&T chief product officer Roman Pacewicz (left) making a point during a fireside chat at MEF18

In one of the panel discussions, AT&T chief product officer Roman Pacewicz said the entire industry is currently laying the groundwork for 5G technology, which he said will be “transformational” and a “game-changer”.

He said 5G provides an enormous network density of one million devices per square kilometer, which is more than twice the capacity of 4G at a much faster in speed.

Pacewicz said the advent of “distributed computing” is also allowing data to be pulled closer to the customer, paving the way for faster service and better mobile experience.

Another trend that he said is transforming the industry is SD-WAN, an acronym for software-defined networking in a wide area network. An SD-WAN simplifies the management and operation of a WAN by decoupling the networking hardware from its control mechanism.

“This provides tremendous amount of value to the customer as this makes the network more intelligent,” Pacewicz said.

The official said AT&T, which has 3.5 million business customers, has already shifted to a software-centric network as demand for data continues to grow significantly among its clients.

The march towards 5G and a software-centric model is also crucial to the shift to a “zero touch network”, according to Ericsson SVP and CTO Erik Ekudden.

“We’re moving towards the realization of zero touch era where humans and machines learn from their interactions and machines adjusting to human intentions,” he said.

Ekudden said similar to what AI and machine learning is currently doing to a number of industries, the telecom will ultimately come to a situation where no human intervention will be needed in various transactions and processes.

“The network platform consisting of 5G and distributed platform are needed for us to get to that level,” the Ericsson executive said.

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