5G: at Orange, we are preparing tomorrow’s network today!

From 2020 5G will gradually offer improved mobile broadband with speeds up to 10 times quicker than 4G, ultra-high-performance fixed internet access to complement the fibre network where it is not available, and new applications to support businesses with their digital transformation. And we are preparing all of this today with our teams because at Orange, our customer experience is key!
Mari-Noëlle Jégo-Laveissière, Executive Vice President Innovation, Marketing & Technologies at Orange describes it in détail.

Today, 200 of Orange’s men and women are working on 5G, and the 20,000 staff working on mobile networks across the Group will be gradually brought on board.

We are currently looking into three complementary areas:

– Improved mobile broadband, with speeds up to 10 times quicker than 4G.
– As well as ultra-high-performance fixed internet access to supplement the fibre network wherever it is not available.
– Not to mention a range of new applications, to support the digital transformation for various business sectors.

Connectivity is the foundation for our innovations. That is why we will be actively preparing for the arrival of 5G.

5G with Orange will be a genuine “multi-service” network.

5G is designed to be a multi-service network, able to adapt to a very wide range of devices: smartphones of course, as well as augmented smartphones with augmented reality and 360° content, sensors, connected devices, fridges, driverless cars, and much more. Basically, it is 5G that will make it possible for connected cars or smart cities of the future to develop.

The cost-effective development of 5G on a large scale requires a global standard that will make it possible to ensure solutions are interoperable and sustainable. We are actively contributing to its standardisation and a first major milestone was successfully passed in December 2017 when a first version of the standard was published. Another essential element for its development: frequencies. Low frequencies, which will meet the requirements for coverage, particularly inside buildings, high frequencies, to deliver quicker speeds and accompany growth in uses, and very high frequencies, for very high-speed fixed broadband.

We are committed to a co-development approach with all the ecosystems: research, universities, various economic sectors (transport, industry, health, entertainment, etc.).

Together, I firmly believe that we will be able to better understand the challenges that lie ahead, the new business models involved and the requirements at stake, in addition to testing various use cases.

Of course, we are carrying out this work and assessing the performance of the various technologies under real conditions to gain the operational experience needed to create 5G networks.

We have already carried out several concrete tests on 5G and we are launching others.

We will be carrying out France’s first end-to-end 5G test in Lille and Douai between mid-2018 and mid-2019 as soon as ARCEP has given necessary authorizations. For these tests, we will be using Ericsson’s 5G equipment.

With Samsung and Cisco, we will also be carrying out a full-scale test in the second half of 2018 for very high-speed home internet access with 5G for Orange’s retail customers in Romania.

Transport of the future is a fascinating field and we are working in particular on vehicle connectivity. I am particularly proud that Orange is now the 4G/5G connectivity partner for UTAC CERAM, a global leader for the testing and approval of driverless vehicles.

5G will be rolled out gradually from 2020.

The first 5G smartphones are scheduled to arrive in 2019, which will enable us to launch some pilot cities. Then, deployments will move forward gradually from 2020 depending on the availability of frequencies and growth in use.

Orange is the leader for 4G and wants to maintain this position with 5G.

This next-generation connectivity will transform our practices and society in general, driving the emergence of a 5G Generation.

 

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Live streaming has become increasingly widespread. With the addition of 5G, this service can be dramatically improved at all levels, including image quality, download times, interruptions and lag. Faced with today’s generations’ enthusiasm for live feeds, researchers are now working to adapt live streaming TV so it can be done on the go. The Goal: Lag-Free Live Streams Getting closer to what’s happening live is one of the main challenges in the field of live streaming. Yet, streaming over the Internet using Wi-Fi or 4G still results in a lag of 30, 40 or even 50 seconds on tablets or smartphones. This lag will particularly hit home for any soccer fans who have ever heard their neighbor watching TV and cheering for a goal they haven’t seen yet. It also affects participants in time-limited interactive TV game shows and televised broadcasts by figures of authority in relation to announcements, alerts or disasters, for example. Ensuring service continuity, particularly when faced with high demand, is another challenge of live streaming. At Orange Innovation, researchers are therefore thinking about how they can make improvements in the field of TV streaming on the go, using a combination of 5G, video streaming technologies (multicast, low latency), network bandwidth allocation (network slicing) and edge computing. Their work has primarily focused on mutualizing streams; a key way of saving bandwidth. Dominique Thômé, Product Manager Innovation Data TV, explains that “Unlike unicast technology, which broadcasts streams as many times as there are simultaneous connections, multicast should allow a single stream to be broadcast to thousands of people connected to a large 5G zone. This mutualization prevents bandwidth loss and, consequently, service interruptions from network congestion. Another advantage, which is of great importance to Orange, is that it consumes less energy and therefore contributes to the transition to a low-carbon economy.” Recognizing the Know-How of Carriers Experiments carried out in the Orange laboratory have yielded interesting results. A real-time readjustment of video quality to prevent network saturation resulted in each customer being able to watch TV with only five seconds of lag, confirming the feasibility of 5G live streaming on the go. In fact, faced with ever-increasing volumes, some broadcasters are beginning to turn to carriers to broadcast their TV streams. They need players that are able to transmit this huge amount of data while ensuring optimal quality, in order to avoid any latency problems. Thibaut Mathieu, Director of Innovation for Interactive & Multiscreen Services at Orange says that “Our pioneering approach toward 5G live streaming highlights the valuable role that network carriers play, right at the heart of the system, compared to OTT players (“over the top,” such as the Tech Giants), both in terms of technology and business. We will be able to get involved in data transmission, with optimal mutualization technology that will save money and energy.” These technologies are consistent with Orange’s CSR commitment, both in terms of carbon footprint (lower energy consumption) and inclusion (broadcasting the right information at the right time). More than Just Entertainment The challenge goes far beyond the traditional TV broadcasting market itself. In the context of the health crisis, brands have been quick to understand the value of live streams to generate sales and are starting to venture into “Live Shopping.” Originating from China, this large-scale approach to teleshopping consists of an online event where presenters, influencers or personalities showcase products live to a digital audience who are able to order products or ask questions. Live Shopping is attracting more and more brands around the world. “With hundreds of thousands of people connected at the same time, its large scale will certainly create capacity issues” says Thômé. “This is another case where mutualization will ensure quality of service.”

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