Qualcomm cites investor scepticism as 5G roadblock

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A senior Qualcomm director has echoed claims from operator executives that investor scepticism is a major stopping block for 5G.

Speaking at a ‘Path to 5G’ event in London yesterday, Ben Timmons, Senior Director of Business Development at Qualcomm Europe, claimed CEOs and CTOs of operators were already aware of the business benefits of the next generation technology.

However, he said telco executives faced the challenge of convincing investors that they were “not just madly rushing into new technology because it’s all being hyped”.

His comments follow a string of senior operator figures raising concerns about the business rationale for 5G at last week's Huawei’s Mobile Broadband Forum – comments which Timmons said were “bang on time”.

BT CEO Gavin Patterson claimed at the event that the industry had yet to find the business case, and was followed by Deutsche Telekom CTO Bruno Jacobfeuerborn saying the financial department was not easily won over by technologies such as network slicing. Vodafone CTO Johan Wibergh used his keynote to call on telcos to look at the long term lifecycle of 5G.

Timmons claimed the industry was in the midst of two “races”, the first being a technology one built around the first launches, first devices and first demonstrations.

However, underlying this, he said, was a “much longer race, which in fact is much more important, because it’s about the long-term success of 5G”.

This second race was more about the longer term roll-out, the expansion of features and the addition of new frequency bands, he claimed.

However, he added operators faced a 10, 15 or 20-year investment and needed to know where new revenue streams would come from to justify this expenditure.

Timmons used the press event to highlight a recent demo with ZTE and China Mobile, which he described as a key milestone for the technology.

Last week's test saw the world’s first interoperable data connection based on 3GPP’s Release 15 of the 5G standard, set to be finalised next month.

Timmons said this test had used equipment from multiple companies rather than a single infrastructure vendor, the first time this had been done to the specifications of what was “pretty much” the standard.

The event also came a week after the chipmaker rejected a take-over bid from semiconductor player Broadcom.

Timmons declined to comment on Broadcom’s offer when asked by Mobile Europe, with a Qualcomm representative pointing to its recent statement that the bid "significantly undervalued" the company.