Facebook relies on it, as do Google, Twitter and Amazon - I'm talking, of course, about high-speed networks. The digital revolution is forging ahead and if we want to seize its opportunities over the long term, we must ensure that the evolution of the networks keeps pace. This simply isn't possible the way things stand at present. And I'm not just talking about bandwidth. X billion devices connected over the Internet, self-driving cars, real-time applications in medicine and education - just a few examples of why we need to conquer new network dimensions.
Understandably, we want to be able to contribute the latest technological facts to the discussion on digital responsibility to enable a better judgment of the risks and opportunities of digitization.
The world's largest mobile industry gathering, Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, is coming up and all of our technology colleagues here at Deutsche Telekom are working flat out. MIMO, full duplex, SoftRAN, SIC - I don't want to bore you with all the jargon. "Faster, higher, further" is a key area, but not the only one, so it's just as exciting for non-techies, too. Technology is a kind of unseen source of fascination, but it's one that wows customers.
This year, I have picked out three technological challenges at Mobile World Congress that I see as being crucial to the wow factor: 5G and response times, mile-high LTE, and a network that is 'made in Europe.'
Why 5G can take on any professional athlete
Did you know that, with training, professional athletes can perfect their reaction times to just seven milliseconds? With standard response times of up to 40 milliseconds, fourth-generation mobile networks lag far behind in comparison. State-of-the-art technology has reduced this to around 12 milliseconds, but there is still room for improvement. We cannot accept this degree of latency in cars that are supposed to drive themselves and operations that are supposed to take place in real time. I'll bet you anything that things will look much different with 5G. The cards will be redealt. When the time comes, a single converged fixed and mobile network won't be the only change. In future, network architectures will look and operate in a fundamentally different way from today. Faster response times will be just one of many changes. Professional athletes can push themselves as hard as they want, but they'll never be able to keep up. We will reap the benefits when our network is needed, for example, to remotely control a robot in real time and get it to carry out exact, particularly delicate precision maneuvers. The existing latencies in our infrastructure are preventing this and hindering innovation in this field. We will have to wait for the next generation to open up opportunities that are closed to us right now. But regarding network latency we have a new milestone to announce in Barcelona.
How LTE is taking off
Did you know that some 22,500 flights are operated in Europe every day carrying more than 500 million passengers a year? Europe has the world's most heavily populated airspace. According to Lufthansa, 85 percent of passengers would like to have in-flight Internet, yet only a handful of airplanes offer Wi-Fi. We are working with Inmarsat to create the European Aviation Network - a brand new hybrid network, including ground and satellite components. It is the first of its kind in Europe, and LTE plays a key role. So we will soon be connecting people above the clouds, too. Listen out for the in-flight announcement: "Please switch all electronic devices ON!" The launch of this celestial network is something we will be talking about in more detail in Barcelona.
Technological leadership made in Europe - how?
Did you know that today's telecommunications companies need up to 50 platforms to offer services such as voice, data, TV, and MMS? For us, this means we run some 650 platforms in 13 countries across Europe. We are the only operator in Europe that is developing a network architecture which will enable us to use a single standardized infrastructure across national boundaries. Called the 'infrastructure cloud,' it is created by moving hardware platforms into the virtual environment. What, just yesterday, was a physical, specially made component with a single network function, will tomorrow be simply a software program in our universal cloud. The advantage of a software program is that it can be scaled up or down at any time. This means that infrastructure cloud capacity will only be used to the extent required for a specific function, saving valuable resources, not least a great deal of electricity and costs, and thus helping to protect the environment. By contrast, the old telecommunications platforms were always built to cope with maximum load, often leaving them under-utilized for large stretches. These new technologies in conjunction with our pan-European network will be one of our top talking points at Barcelona. New words like 'virtualization' and 'cloudification' have already been absorbed into everyday language in the industry. Nevertheless, Deutsche Telekom is currently the only operator that is pushing ahead with the concept as an absolute priority to establish a joint infrastructure cloud and thus remove physical boundaries in future. Customers in Europe will benefit more rapidly from innovation and new products, regardless of where.
So there are at least three good reasons that promise to make Barcelona an exciting experience. We are also offering an advance preview of the Telekom Network World at MWC just ahead of the official opening. A 360-degree video will give everyone the chance to get a sneak peek.