Telcos need to 'calm down' on 5G: Cisco ANZ CTO

Cisco ANZ's CTO has said telcos need to be more 'sober' about advancing towards 5G network technology while standards are still being discussed, or risk losing their investments.

The telecommunications industry needs to "calm down" on 5G developments, according to Cisco Australia and New Zealand CTO Kevin Bloch, who said that companies risk losing their investments by implementing network technology while the standards are still being decided.

"There's still a long way to go for the ratification through 3GPP of the 5G standards, so we just need to as an industry calm down a little bit and realise we will get there," Bloch told ZDNet.

"We're currently in pre-standards 5G. And whatever people say, everybody's going to have to realise that until the standard is ratified, there is a lot of risk involved in your investment.

"So there's good news in terms of the promise of 5G, but then you've got to also be a bit more rational about your timing ... otherwise, you could waste a lot of money."

Following the many 5G trials, solutions, and network technology updates announced during Mobile World Congress last week, Bloch said he understands the need for operators and vendors to push towards 5G -- with consumers wanting faster speeds and more bandwidth, as well as the ability to connect things.

However, he said the industry has "got to just be calm in terms of the expectation" prior to the standards decisions being made.

Bloch added that telcos also need to be wary about their advancement of LTE-Broadcast (LTE-B) network technology, saying that without support from Apple on its devices, it could go the way of NFC, which was never supported across the iPhone in the same way as on Android devices.

"LTE-Broadcast -- this is the kind of thing where you need to be sober about what's going on. Because I think LTE-Broadcast is a fascinating technology, especially for deployment of content, it's got a lot of merit. But the problem that the telcos have got is ... Apple does not support LTE-B," Bloch said.

Telstra last week announced the launch of LTE-B across its entire 4G network by 2018 in partnership with Ericsson, saying it plans to attain network efficiency through the technology both in terms of media content delivery and critical applications.

But without Apple's support, the network investment by Telstra and Ericsson could be for naught, as it may not be capable on 40 percent of all phones in Australia.

"And it's not that Apple doesn't know about LTE-B, so the question is why is Apple not supporting it?" Bloch pointed out.

"You've got to weigh this out and be very careful here, because you could end up just talking to Android phones.

"So timing, going back to timing, being sober is important."

In terms of what Cisco is doing towards 5G, Bloch said its technology will continue providing the "intelligent core" of all networks.

"In the heart of the network, you need a control point for these connections, so we don't do the edge, we do the intelligent core," he explained.

"The physical core for 5G networks, that's kind of Cisco's baby ... our technology is currently at the core of 3G, 4G networks [and] is being extended to 5G."

Bloch also pointed towards Cisco's partnership with Ericsson on 5G as the way forward.

"Part of our partnership is really bringing a total solution of technology including all the Gs and services under one or two vendors," he said.

"The evolved packet core from Cisco is really the brains in the heart of the system, and what we've done is talk about the evolved packet core to the next wave of 5G -- when and if it happens."

Disclosure: Corinne Reichert travelled to Cisco Live in Melbourne as a guest of Cisco