Ronan Dunne mused on the challenges facing smart cities in the U.K. He recently left his role as head of Telefónica’s U.K. mobile subsidiary O2 to take over Verizon’s wireless unit.

Dunne said that the U.K. government needs to make it easier to roll out next generation mobile communications infrastructure. The consequences of lagging in 5G advancements could hamper the development of smart cities and related technology like connected cars.

“In the longer-term, we will forget this stupid debate about rolling out fibre cables,” said Dunne. “The UK taxpayers have to pay BT for digging holes in the ground which doesn’t make a lot of sense in this day and age.”

Many mobile operators have pushed for changes to the Electronic Communications Code (ECC) for years, and are lobbying for coverage in the impending Digital Economy Act.

The next stage of wireless

5G is the proposed next stage of wireless communications standards. Though it is currently in development, it is seen as a necessary evolution from the current 4G systems.

This is due to the massive increases in wireless data that are already flowing thanks to the advent of Internet of Things (IoT) technology.

IoT sensors form the backbone of smart city strategies, with everything from streetlights to manhole covers generating data that needs to be transmitted, analyzed and utilized.

Many telecoms experts have opined that 5G’s future role as IoT enabler will create new revenue streams for operators.

However, there have been doubts raised that the introduction of new the 5G infrastructure will be ultimately advantageous to telecommunication firms. New Street Research partner Andrew Entwistle warned earlier this year that 5G will not offer “any business case for a telecoms operator.”

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