Softbank director: 2017 a «turning point» for 5G

14 Jul 2015

In a keynote speech at the ZTE Global Analyst Conference Monday, Hidebumi Kitahara, senior director for Softbank, described 2017 as a "turning point" for 5G.

In a media question-and-answer session later, Kitahara emphasized that while Softbank is moving towards 5G, it's a process and not an exact science. "As for 2017 being a 'turning point', it depends on the definition," he said. "It's not like we have all the components. But we are doing a step-by-step migration and 2017 is when it will start to turn."

"5G isn't only about the network but also about devices," he said. "In Tokyo, LTE penetration is 99-100%. And the country with the most LTE phones is the most advanced [in terms of 5G]."

Kitahara said that Softbank was "giving lots of homework and getting feedback on a daily basis" to/from vendors under consideration. Kitahara said that 5G massive MIMO trials and R&D would start later in 2015, with "Chinese vendors" as well as Nokia.

While the Softbank director didn't name any China vendors besides ZTE, Huawei recently announced it has signed an MoU with Softbank covering cooperation in verification testing, technological evaluation, and R&D of TDD+, a 4.5G mobile communications technology based on LTE TDD proposed by Huawei.

The IoT and its "inherent security issues"

In an earlier keynote, ZTE EVP Adam Zeng mentioned the vast opportunities of smart cities, smart homes, and connected cars, but also emphasized the potential risks of the IoT and called on industry players to address the inherent security issues.

"When there are billions of devices connected to the internet, it will be challenging to ensure that the devices and the immersive amount of data generated and accessed by them are controlled only by the authorized persons," says Sherrie Huang, program head, Asia Pacific, Analysys Mason.

"Security and reliability standards are sure to increase as IoT/M2M solutions support more and more mission-critical devices and core functionalities," said Huang. "For these devices/solutions, tests simulating real world situations will be required by regulators before they go live – just like crash tests in the automotive industry – and fall-back solutions may be needed as 'plan B' when systems fail."

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