BT’s Hybrid Network, to be launched in 2023, will be comprised of the company’s mobile, fixed line and WIFI networks, offering customers ever present, gigabit connectivity

Consumers in the UK are increasingly intolerant of complexity, even as they begin to demand ubiquitous, gigabit capable connectivity, according to BT’s CTIO.

Speaking at the Total Telecom Congress in London on Tuesday, Howard Watson said that while consumers were essentially technologically agnostic as to how they received their connectivity, they were becoming increasingly demanding about the speed, quality and reliability of that connection.

“Simplicity is the key. As we approach 2020, we know that our customers are increasingly intolerant of complexity. They want their network to work, to deliver the services they want, wherever they want them. That’s why we are focussing on taking a leading position in converged connectivity” he said.

At last year’s Congress, Watson announced that BT would be launching a fully converged, hybrid network that would offer seamless connectivity across the company’s mobile, fixed line and WIFI networks, with the aim to have all of its customers signed up to the network by 2023.

This year, Watson stressed the crucial role that WIFI and mobile connectivity would play in this hybrid next generation network.

“We want to take our network beyond the limits that each individual technology poses, making it greater than the sum of its parts” he said.

“Whether you are connecting through fixed, mobile or WIFI, bound by intelligence and software driven common infrastructure, we truly believe we can transform the customer’s experience and deliver that seamless connectivity that they demand. We are in a unique position to do that because we are the only operator in the UK to build this type of network.”

“Making this happen is not east or trivial and we need to push the boundaries of the available technologies in terms of what they can do in terms of coverage, capability and interoperability. We need to rollout new technologies like 5G and WIFI 6 across the whole of the UK.

BT was the first operator in the UK to launch 5G mobile network services through its mobile subsidiary, EE, which now has a 5G presence in 20 towns and cities cross the country. BT has subsequently launched 5G for its own brand customers and Watson said that EE and BT would try to provide 5G network coverage in an additional 25 towns and cities across the UK by the end of 2019.

Watson also said that the fragmented nature of the UK’s spectrum market was causing specific challenges for operators, as they look to deliver next generation network speeds over cluttered and disparate spectrum holdings.  

“We’ve insisted that every single 5G base station is connected into our core network via a 10gb backhaul link – and we think that is absolutely crucial to provide that great 5G experience, especially due to the fragmented nature of spectrum here in the UK. Whilst that fragmented situation with spectrum continues, and hopefully we’ll have an opportunity to address this at the forthcoming spectrum auction next year, other techniques like ensuring a big backhaul capability are essential for us to deliver those great speeds to customers,” he said.