Berlin -- BBWF -- 5G is at the heart of BT's investment in fixed and mobile technologies, and its ongoing investment to upgrade and evolve its networks to meet customers' ongoing needs, a top company executive told Broadband World Forum attendees.
With its move back into mobile through the £12.5bn acquisition of EE, BT now can combine mobile and fixed access to ramp up its roll out of ultra-broadband, said Howard Watson, CEO of BT's Technology, Service and Operations division.
"We are now looking at geographical coverage instead of population coverage. We are also investing in capacity of that network, looking at speed of download," he said. "We believe at its core we need investment in R&D in both fixed and mobile."
BT plans to further expand its deployment of VDSL, said Watson.
"We are adding that to add 12 million homes capable of 100+ Mbps by 2020," he said.
The operator also continues to invest in fiber. Recently, in the lab, BT delivered 5.6 Tbps over a single piece of fiber, said Watson.
"That is the entire peak demand of UK customers on the Internet," he said. "We continue to believe that fiber will be the basis for our future."
However, a combination of different access technologies as well as network functions virtualization and software-defined networking are crucial to further growth, Watson added.
But technology innovation should not be the core focus of an operator's business, he said. It's vital to find use cases for advances such as 5G, said Watson.
"At the moment, the only use case for 5G is better mobile services, driving more video to small screens of increasing resolution," Watson said. "5G is truly at the heart of our strategy. We know it is much more than enhanced mobile broadband, but right now this is the only thing we can build a business case about. It is about looking at how quickly we can roll that out, but let's not lose sight of the other promises it brings."
— Niall Hunt, Digital Lead, Content & Communities, KNect365. Follow him on Twitter @Niall_Hunt