Former GSMA VoLTE program director heads to Samsung R&D center

5g (Pixabay)
Operators will likely pick and choose the developments to which they attach the 5G name.

After a couple of years as director of group architecture at Capita, Dan Warren, who led projects like Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and Wi-Fi calling while serving as senior director of technology at the GSMA, is heading over to Samsung R&D Institute in the United Kingdom as head of 5G Research. Warren revealed the move via Twitter last week.  

Samsung has R&D institutes scattered around the world, and this one near London is among those involved in standards setting, among other things, with involvement in groups like 3GPP. He will report to Howard Benn, head of Standards and Industrial Affairs at Samsung Electronics Research Institute in the U.K.

In an interview with FierceWirelessTech before his official start date on Jan. 23, Warren said the thing about standards is everybody wants standards to work faster, but the nature of the work is not fast: At the end of the day, many stakeholders have to establish a technical definition that everybody can agree on and that’s beneficial for the broader industry. And that’s beneficial for a number of reasons, such as aligning spectrum bands, economies of scale and roaming.

A lot of work continues to define what 5G will be, and higher bandwidth and lower latency are pretty well expected. Warren said he also believes NFV and SDN will more than likely form the basis of 5G in terms of the architectural principles. NFV and SDN are already being deployed by operators and will run through 5G implementations—as a broader trend that can be applied to future and previous generations of fixed and mobile architectures.

Of his time at GSMA, Warren said he’s most proud of the work he was involved with in VoLTE and related efforts in Wi-Fi calling. At the time VoLTE work was getting under way, over the top (OTT) players were cannibalizing the voice services that traditional operators were offering, and they were going to cede that entire market over to them if they didn’t do something big.

RELATED: GSMA planning VoLTE 'how-to' guide for carriers

He still remembers the first time he received a VoLTE call and the remarkable sound quality. The program was launched in 2011, and while he was often asked that year at Mobile World Congress how long it would take for VoLTE to come to fruition, he knew there were still eight or nine requirements that had to happen before it hit mainstream. He pegged the timing at around 2014 to 2015, which ended up being spot on.

RELATED: T-Mobile: Nearly 40 percent of voice calls are VoLTE

So, what does his crystal ball say about the arrival of 5G? Warren declined to predict which operator would launch first, but he expects to see some form of 5G launch by 2018 if not by the end of this year. However, Warren suggests that mass-market adoption will take a lot longer, not least because the business case is much more complex than with previous Gs. There’s also a danger, as in previous introductions of new wireless technology generations, of it becoming a marketing race rather than a technical one—all 5G launches will not be the same, and operators will likely pick and choose the developments to which they attach the 5G name.

In the meantime, Warren no doubt will be mulling 5G use cases, but remote surgery isn’t likely to be one of them. Often cited as a potential use case for 5G, remote surgery is a tangible thing that people can grasp, but he sees a lot of problems with it, such as costs, limitations posed by the speed of light and the fact that a limited number of surgeons are qualified to participate. Maybe it’s applicable in the case of some highly contagious diseases, he said, but when it comes down to it, he’d rather see the surgeon jump into a taxi and travel to the hospital if it were him in the operating room—which, when put in that light, sounds like a pretty compelling argument.