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5G promises breakthrough in fixed-mobile convergence, says BT’s Watson

5G mobile promises a convergence between mobile and fixed “in a way that hasn’t happened before”, according to Howard Watson, BT Group CIO and CEO of technology, strategy and operators.

The technology will also bring about a convergence of mobile and WiFi, Watson told TV Connect attendees yesterday. “This is critical for our agenda,” he said.

Watson said that BT is looking to expand its mobile TV offering on the back of its acquisition of EE. BT is looking to bring football to all of EE smartphones, he said.

Watson also said that BT will develop its UHD TV offering with the addition of HDR, wider colour gamut and higher frame rates to complement 4K.

In the longer term, the company is looking at the impact of virtual reality on sport, said Watson. “With the appropriate VR experience we could bring football matches to life,” he said. However, he said, the technology still has to develop to enable people to more in real time in a virtual environment.

Watson also said that deeper social engagement would be part of the future of TV.

“How can we use a companion develop smell and texture that really bring experiences to life,” he said.

On the need for further technology improvements to the online viewing experience, Watson said it was important to enable Apple and Google to eliminate long buffering periods on adaptive bitrate video and to optimise the use of unicast and multicast. He said there was a need for a sub-two second channel change.

Watson said there was also an urgent need to work on “tech literacy” to bring on a cohort of trained technologists tomorrow.

TV has delivered quarter-on-quarter successive growth, according to Watson.

BT now has as many BT TV customers joining and watching online as it does via broadcast, Watson said.