5G pushes Orange Belgium into integrator role

5G: Van operator naar integrator

A year ago, 5G was still largely just a concept in Belgium. A lot has changed since then. Applications that use 5G as part of their solution stand out in the market, and as a result, Orange Belgium is increasingly playing the role of integrator.

“Last year, data traffic went up by 38%,” says Michaël Peeters, Director Innovation & Business Development at Orange Belgium. “At some point, 4G will struggle to handle that growth, as millions of smart energy meters are added to the network, soon to be joined by smart streetlights, self-driving vehicles and so on.” Orange Belgium is therefore working very hard to keep rolling out its 5G network.


Innovation in the professional market

Now that everyone does so much more on their mobile devices, 5G has become indispensable. The technology primarily provides increased capacity and speed. However, for consumers, that’s not where the big innovation lies. “The combination of 4G and mobile data on smartphones made a big difference to consumers,” Peeters says. 5G is now making all this a lot faster, but it doesn’t do that much more for consumers.

What is really making a difference is slicing. This technology makes it possible to allocate part of the available bandwidth exclusively to a specific application. “The innovations that 5G has opened the door to – thanks to slicing and other new developments – can all be found in the professional market. 5G allows us to take digitalisation to the next level.”


What couldn’t be done before is now possible

However, just because 5G offers new capabilities doesn’t mean that all other forms of connectivity are suddenly worthless. “Many companies now have experience with technologies such as Wi-Fi,” Michaël Peeters says. “They’re not going to just throw out those investments. The important thing is that 5G now offers features that other forms of connectivity couldn’t achieve.”

Therein lie the tangible advantages for businesses. Broadcasting company EVS, for instance, ran a pilot project when capturing an event. The cameras transmitted the images directly to EVS with 5G. This gave the company far more flexibility at the event location, as it no longer needed an on-site mobile transmission van. The performance was streamed live so that 10,000 students could enjoy it remotely. Peeters: “That was one of the examples over the past year that illustrated how the concept of slicing is gradually taking hold.”


5G is a business story

“However, it’s important to understand that 5G is not just an IT development,” he says. “At the end of the day, it’s also a business development.” You can build a really strong case when you make 5G connectivity part of the solution. “During inspections, drones used to record all their footage on a memory card, for example. They then had to return to their base so the card could be taken out. It was the only way to watch the footage. If drones can use 5G to stream live images during an inspection, that obviously makes a world of difference.”

When connectivity is part of the solution, Orange Belgium’s role as an operator also changes. In all other forms of connectivity, our role was often limited to providing that connectivity. That’s different with 5G. “We now act as an integrator of business solutions,” Peeters adds. “That is something very different altogether.” The most common 5G applications today rely on bandwidth, but we are expecting more cases using the ultra-low latency offered by 5G. “Consequently, we will act more and more as an integrator rather than an operator.”

In this video, Michaël Peeters speaks about the latest 5G updates.


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