MWC, 5G and Fernando Alonso – Is It All About Speed?


Malik Zakaria


March 8, 2018

Industry gathering will see the hype counter in high octane overdrive, but FieldEngineer indicates it is time for the excitement injection to include a more practical formula

The news that Formula One driver Fernando Alonso will join a keynote panel at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is probably the final confirmation of the mobile industry’s obsession with speed. This year will see some 110,000 delegates descend on the Catalan capital for the mobile industry’s annual festival of hype and hope.

Moreover, with the focus likely to be on 5G and the need for more speed, Fernando Alonso and representatives of the Formula One organization will be center stage at the conference on Tuesday afternoon looking at the fourth industrial revolution.

The mobile operator community is excited about the promise of 5G networks that could enable a whole raft of new services – everything from the connected car market to networks of billions of IoT devices monitoring, measuring and managing manufacturing equipment, smart homes, offices, factories, and infrastructure. There’s no doubt that 5G will be the hot topic of conversation at the show and the focus of much innovation.

But at the same time, operators face tremendous downward pressure on their service prices as data follows voice into the “unlimited” void. Consumers no longer expect to pay for voice minutes or text bundles and are now beginning to plan unlimited data or tariff-free access to services like Facebook and YouTube or indeed a Formula One app. And as average revenue per customer falls from standard functions, operators will need to fund all this new network investment by figuring out a way to both cut costs and quickly monetize potential new digital content and services.

But this need to cut costs among the operator community has repercussions around the eco-system. As networks evolve from a specialist telecoms hardware-driven infrastructure to a more IT software-led environment – the SDN or Software Defined Network – the resultant CAPEX savings act both as a reward for the operators and a revenue loss for some traditional telco vendors. We see that play out with devastating cuts hitting names such as Ericsson who suffered near 10,000 job losses in the last quarter of 2017 alone.

But the investment needs to continue to grow because the incumbent operator in the developed economy markets that doesn’t invest in its network and look to move towards 5G is an operator that wants to go out of business.

So in Barcelona, while the headline talk of the town will be 5G, the undercurrent from both the operators and the vendors will be how can we design, build, deploy, manage and maintain these networks in a way that is most CAPEX and OPEX efficient for everyone in the value chain.

Offered the chance, Fernando Alonso would no doubt tell the audience that although he is driving a super-fast piece of technology – something much more than merely an engine – he would not be able to keep his particular show on the road without a talented army of engineers.

So, here’s a valuable, and cost-saving, a tip for the operator community: The on-demand workforce has a vital role to play solving your economic puzzle and keeping your networks growing and going. Because this isn’t Formula One and no operator and no equipment vendor can expect to have a maintenance or deployment engineer with the right skills available around the clock in every possible global location.

So, while the full-time telecoms workforce shrinks, its on-demand workforce grows. Our FieldEngineer platform is growing fast and will soon have close to 40,000 qualified service engineers available to meet the expansion strategies of the telco operators. In fact, our platform can now locate engineers to deliver vital services in 170 countries covering some 600 certified telecoms skill sets.

Vendors and operators that register on our platform can search for an available engineer or engineering team via location and skill set. The jobs requested can range from an individual task to a longer-term project, and the platform uses advanced machine learning and AI techniques to present a range of supplier options to the buyer. Using lessons from the gig or shared economy platforms such Airbnb and Uber, those options presented alongside reviews and recommendations as well as accurate quotes to deliver the job requested.

Work can be commissioned, monitored, and paid for on completion using the FieldEngineer platform. The on-demand workers get exposed to a broader audience using the platform; and the service buyers – be they operators, vendors or system integrators gain access to a much larger and better-qualified workforce than they could ever hope to employ.

In Barcelona this month, when they discuss 5G and get excited about speed, they might like to remember this as well. Using an on-demand workforce like the Field Engineer team can speed by as much as 50 percent the time taken to fix a fault – with one of our customers reporting a reduction in ‘Mean Time to Repair’ from 45 days down to just 21. And if Fernando could consistently see the tires changed on his car in half the time of his competitors, he’d be a pleased driver indeed.


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