Liberty CTO Nair: 5G a ‘game changer,’ but not a wireline replacement

AMSTERDAM — Liberty Global CTO Balan Nair said 5G will be a “game-changer” in its superior ability to transfer data, but the technology will not replace fixed-network broadband services anytime soon. 

“The economics just aren’t there,” Nair said on a Friday panel full of media and telecom CTOs at the IBC Show. “You’re talking about buying hundreds of towers and all of that spectrum. And on the residential end, putting a device outside the window and wiring it back into the home. It’s a question of business model and if you plan on making any money. The economics benefit fixed.”

Nair’s comments on 5G were part of a wide-ranging discussion, during which the top engineer for the top European cable company also addressed the issue of whether large telecom and media outfits should build their own cloud infrastructure. Nair’s response was an emphatic “no.”

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To Nair’s thinking, no matter how much Liberty invested in its own cloud infrastructure, it could never match leading cloud services vendors Amazon Web Services, Google and Microsoft. 

“No matter how good you are, you’re never going to be as good as those guys,” Nair said. “They’ve already built amazing operational structures with all the operational metrics you’d ever want.

Also, addressing the issue of artificial intelligence, Nair said that 15% of Liberty Global’s network resources go to managing AI for functions like voice remotes. He predicted that allocation would rise to 50% within five years. 

“AI is much more than a buzzword, and we’re looking at how we can deploy it more widely,” concurred Latha Maripuri, deputy CTO for News Corp., who said the media company its now heavily using the technology for advanced advertising. 

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