5G is slowly becoming a reality. Telecom markets globally are witnessing significant activity around 5G as industry stakeholders collaborate to develop a conducive ecosystem for technology deployment. Testing and measurement (T&M) companies, in particular, are playing a key role by providing diverse test and measurement methods for futuristic equipment and networks. In an interview with tele.net, Benoit Neel, vice president and general manager, sales, EMEAI region, Keysight Technologies, talks about the evolving 5G scenario and the opportunities that it brings for the company…

How has the telecom T&M space evolved over time?

The telecom market has evolved significantly from voice to high speed data services. This has consequently brought a key change in the requirements of the market. 5G, of course, will add a new dimension to services. It will bring about a massive evolution, enabling more participation from telecom networks.

New 5G network access equipment must deliver broader bandwidths, higher frequencies, lower latencies, and enable machine-to-machine communication necessary for a massively connected internet of things (IoT). As 5G network equipment enters the market, it must be tested against the most realistic 5G conditions.

How is the 5G ecosystem evolving in India? What role is Keysight playing in this regard?

Unlike 3G or 4G, a lot of work is happening on 5G in India, on the standards side as well as in developing country-specific 5G applications. There are a lot of research and academic institutions that are working very actively towards this. Committees have been formed by the government and the telecom department  to focus on India-specific applications. In fact, we are partners in all these initiatives and  are the leading partners of these test bed organisations in India.

Globally, we are engaging with all the stakeholders in the 5G ecosystem, right from the regulators and research institutions to operators. In India, we are engaging with the regulatory bodies that are involved in policy formulation and spectrum sale. We are also working with the chipset community. Most of these chipset vendors have an R&D base in the country. Next, we are partnering with device vendors, and for 5G, these devices may not be limited to handsets but include other devices such as IoT and wearables. Further, we are engaging with infrastructure providers. Globally, we are collaborating with leading operators, although from an Indian standpoint we are waiting for the spectrum sale to happen first.

What are the key use cases for 5G?

5G, by definition, means more bandwidth and low latency. Interestingly, applications that require more bandwidth and low latency are many. There are use cases around autonomous cars, in healthcare for remote surgeries, video streaming and the larger entertainment business, and advanced gaming, to name a few.

I believe the most advanced applications today are in the automotive space. This is where the industry is  increasingly focusing on given the low latency and security requirements. The main idea is to use 5G technology for autonomous cars and communication between cars. This has also been proven by an industry survey conducted by Keysight around 5G, in the past year. One of the key findings of the survey was that automotive is a prime area for the industry from the 5G connectivity perspective. We are witnessing several collaborations and partnerships between service providers and automotive manufacturers today.

5G will also give a big fillip to technology concepts such as IoT, machine to machine and Industry 4.0. 5G is not merely a technology  evolution; it is rather a revolution. I do not remember any of the past standards bringing in such an evolution in the market place.

What are the company’s key focus areas?

We are essentially a technology company, and 5G is a revolution to deal with, where we can play to our strengths. We started with the testing of physical layer, moving to fibre, etc., and have acquired several companies in our journey to growth. We have acquired companies including Ixia, and more recently Prisma. The latter will help us offer a comprehensive and innovative 5G solutions portfolio to customers. Keysight has an expansive portfolio of solutions ranging from layer 1 to layer 7 testing of new network access products. We have the most comprehensive portfolio of solutions as far as 5G is concerned.

5G requires new technologies and performance improvements that challenge the way engineers design, test and optimise 5G base stations (gNBs) and network equipment. Our expertise in and solutions for radio frequency design and internet protocol networking enable network equipment manufacturers to accelerate the delivery of secure, reliable and cost-effective 5G products.

In fact, during the past year 5G and automotive electronics have emerged as our key focus areas. Our year-on-year growth for India and the global market has been in three digits for these segments.