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  • Mikhail Ow

Advanced Technology Development Requires Seamless Connectivity - Terence McCabe, Nokia

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

We spoke to Terence McCabe, Chief Technology Officer, Asia Pacific & Japan, Nokia, on his views on how seamless connectivity is critical for the future of developing technologies such as autonomous vehicles, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) applications, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

Q: Hi, Terence, welcome to Making the Cut. Thank you so much for joining me today. I'm really excited that we have a really nice conversation in front of us. So Terry now we're going to talk about everything that is 5G. There's a really nice big conversation around it as well and now we know some of the basics of that. 5G is 100 times faster than 4G. But from a consumer standpoint, the Internet is really kind of like with mobile broadband, it's so fast, you can watch your HD YouTube videos without so much of a lag and most of the time on the go, you don't need a lot of that big and fast data, right? So tell us, what is this hype behind 5G?

There's a few things that are going on at the same time, and it really, unfortunately, has confused the consumers. I think one part of it is that 5G, it's a technology, but what you actually experience is dependent upon the amount of spectrum that's being allocated to 5G.

Now, here in Singapore, we're doing quite well. We've got good spectrum policy, we've actually got a regulator who's done a great job in pushing for the latest experience of 5G to be available here. But it still takes time to build out indoor coverage, we've got to a base of coverage but there's more to come in order to give you consistent 5G experience everywhere on the island and everywhere that you go.

When you consume data, quite frankly, it’s not all when you're walking down the sidewalk here, while it shouldn't be. It's when you're in the subway, it's when you're in a building when you're having a coffee, when you open documents those are the places that people actually consume more data. So when you start with the network and you build out the general coverage, you're actually only doing a part of what you need to do to give that full 5G experience.

Q: How important or imperative is 5G when it comes to the automobile industry, the development of the automobile industry and especially when it comes to autonomous vehicles?

The first piece about that is autonomous vehicles are autonomous. So they must be safe and they must work.

Without 5G connectivity or any connectivity. It just wouldn't be safe to have vehicles that were being controlled from a data center here in the city. But if you think about all the ways that a vehicle interacts with its environment, if you have vehicle to vehicle communication and the braking activity of the car in front can be coordinated with this vehicle and traffic crossings and traffic lights interact with the vehicle, you don't speed up and slow down. You synchronise your speed with the traffic around you, perhaps you move closer to the vehicle in front of you to reduce wind resistance, but you do it safely because you've got coordination, communication between the vehicles.

Now, if you lose that or if the vehicle in front doesn't have 5G and doesn't support the standards, then you're going to drop back further from that vehicle. You have to have a mode of operation that will work without the network, but when the network is there, you can optimise, make it cleaner, greener, more efficient, and get more cars on a given piece of road and do it safely. And the other piece about 5G is in the manufacturing of the vehicle in the first place, the technology of the supply chain.

The supply chain management and the the configurable flexible manufacturing plants that companies are investing in because they want to be able to reconfigure their factory, without having to re-cable it every time. They want to be able to move the machines around, they want to be able to track the assets.

Q: How important is it for businesses to take advantage of 5G and how can they leverage this connectivity?

Well, I think it's happening already in industries like automotive, in capital intensive industries. You're seeing 5G being being used because of its reliability, because of the characteristics of valuable assets that you can track and that you can monitor. You need practitioners, you need people. If you're going to put a network in a campus, you're going to put a network in a manufacturing plant.

You need the local carrier maybe or some other third party who is going to bring that technology and install it the same way they install Wi-Fi in a building today. But they need to be familiar with it and there needs to be a volume to build up that practice. So that's happening, we see it happening around the world where we are leading the charge on a lot of this private and industrial implementation of mobile network technology.

Q: I wanted to ask you about this from Nokia's standpoint. So now you are implementing and installing more cell base stations around Singapore. Tell us, what is the significance of this? What can users expect from this upgrade and tell us a bit more about why this is important to Nokia as well.

That really is what I mentioned earlier, this idea that your 5G coverage needs to cover, it needs to follow you everywhere, it needs to go in building. And the other piece is, extending the coverage footprint into some of these places, such as the ports, such as manufacturing where you wouldn't build consumer networks. And the one that I would highlight here, because it is particular to Singapore, is maritime coverage and they're part of the digital blueprint

There are some services that are being rolled out already targeting the sailors and the ships in the areas off the coast.

So 5G coverage isn't just being built out here on the island, it's reaching out from the coast. This is Nokia's message, that networks are the fundamental of digitising society and whether it's the public good or the profitability of a business or public safety or environmental monitoring networks, whether they're fibre networks or mobile networks, are critical. And we deliver those solutions, and we try to work with the consumers of that networking to enhance the products in ways that make them more relevant.

Q: This year at the Mobile World Congress, there was this introduction or talk we've heard about 6G, right? And that will be ready by 2024. So here's my question to you. Should we just take the leap to 6G? I know that for each generation, like the new generation of 5G, it depends on for three, two and one, but now that 6G is around the corner, when can we expect it in Singapore?

I can advise that, because the standards for 6G won't be finalised before 2028 - 2029. We had demonstrations of 6G technology on our stand at Mobile World Congress, like all the people did as well, they had slight where we had demos.

These are candidate technologies, these are the technologies that are being injected into the standards making process. And as such, it's great that we've got research showing us the direction 6G will take, but it is not ready yet.

When 6G comes, the standards are being written at the moment, but some of the things that will come with that is 6G is what I would call a hierarchy of networks. It's not just about terrestrial networks like 3G, 4G, 5G have been, it’s including non terrestrial networks, so direct satellite communication. Now, you see the beginnings of that today, Nokia's involved in some of that.


This content is brought to you in collaboration with BMW Asia.

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