En route to 5G − Deutsche Telekom is building a network for life

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In the last two decades, increasing numbers of everyday rituals have been digitized or replaced by entirely new trends. Only very few people reach for the dictionary nowadays if they have a question; instead, they use their smartphone, tablet or computer. Further examples might be

  • Digital TV, with all the benefits it offers
  • Controlling the smart home while out and about
  • The advent of Wi-Fi in cars
  • Administering business processes in the cloud.

Sooner or later, we will all be using these services. We generally don’t give much thought to how they work; the main thing is THAT they work, and that they offer high quality.
It is precisely that − a top-quality network − that Deutsche Telekom strives for. In a digital society in which more and more things are connected with one another, this infrastructure is increasingly important. Just like with a car, where how quickly you can drive isn’t the only important factor, the same applies to data on the Internet. Convenience, security and reliability all have major roles to play alongside speed. To ensure we meet all these criteria, we invest in our infrastructure every year. Deutsche Telekom is pouring another 12 billion euros into infrastructure, and that’s just the figure up to 2018!

Bandwidth is of course still a key topic, because, at the end of the day, a future-ready network has to stay ahead of rising demand. More quality generally also means more data. With 400,000 kilometers of cable, Deutsche Telekom already operates one of the densest fiber-optic networks in Europe. With our fiber-optic-based lines, we will be able to provide some 80 percent of households with more than 50 Mbit/s. In mobile communications, LTE network coverage is already at 91 percent, and Deutsche Telekom also sets the standard for LTE speed, whether in the city, in rural areas, on the train or in the car. But in spite of all these things, we are still a long way from our goal.

Innovation never sleeps. The network of the future has to be developed today, because new trends like holographic video conferencing, interactive robots, self-driving cars and future medical applications make high demands in a data-hungry society. Tactile Internet needs real time, for example; it reacts more quickly than human perception. “Intelligent digitization needs intelligent networks – it needs a new-dimension network. And we are the pioneers!” says Tim Höttges, CEO of Deutsche Telekom.

Deutsche Telekom is not just going along with the development of the next communication standard and the associated technology and architecture; the company is also helping to drive 5G forward. With its 5G:haus, Deutsche Telekom is already trying out building blocks and concepts that might be suitable for future use at a number of sites in collaboration with well-known partners. At Mobile World Congress 2016, Deutsche Telekom really made a breakthrough in terms of reaction speed (latency): it demonstrated reaction times in a complete 5G system of under one millisecond for the first time ever worldwide. This was an important step towards making real-time applications like self-driving cars, remote medical procedures and industrial warning and security systems possible.

For this tiny fraction of the blink of an eye, the distance that the signals travel through the network has to be shortened. This means the processing power needs to be nearer to the user; in our network, that would be, for example, directly on mobile communication base stations or in the immediate environment. A connected car pilot project on the A9 freeway between Munich and Nuremberg already achieved a reaction time of under 20 milliseconds in 2015. In the project, Deutsche Telekom, Continental, the Fraunhofer Institute ESK and Nokia used the principle of mobile edge computing, combining it with precise geolocation technology. The data is only sent from the car to the nearest mobile communication base station, and it is processed right there. It is no longer sent through the network to a data center. Such shorter transmission paths are already facilitating superior safety functions for connected car technology.

The 5G communication standard represents not only short reaction times; it will also allow thousands of items to be networked in the narrowband frequencies (narrowband IoT). The Deutsche Telekom network is already ready for these extremely low-energy data transmission possibilities. Car park management and waste management are only two of the areas in which narrowband Internet, with its limited data volumes, will be deployed.

But be it classic smartphone or tablet use, the smart home, digital entertainment while on the go or the Internet of Things, all of these applications and services call for a high-performance, intelligent network. A network that will be with us all our lives – the Deutsche Telekom network!