Q&A with Bernard Bureau, Vice President, Network and Architecture Strategy at TELUS
The BIG 5G Event: Can you summarise what differentiates TELUS’s 5G rollout from the crowd?
Bernard Bureau: TELUS’s 5G rollout manifested a couple of key differentiations compared with the rest of the world:
First, our 5G spectrum situation in Canada is different than in most countries. We do not have access to any TDD spectrum in the 2.5 to 4 GHz range or any mmWave yet. The best plan we could come up with was to use FDD mid band spectrum for our 5G launch, still an evolution over our very fast LTE-A Pro. Despite the spectrum challenge, our 5G download speed is very competitive when compared to other countries. We’re now looking forward to enable true 5G TDD mid band spectrum.
Second: fiber is critical to our 5G success and an area where we excelled, with very early investment that began many years ago and that we’re fully leveraging today.
Third: Automation is a requirement for 5G success. We’re pushing our suppliers really hard as we progress towards a zero touch / self-driven network.
BIG 5G: Could you share some of the challenges that there in architecting an enterprise ready network on demand?
BB: For decades wireless enabled technologies have been improving the speed, efficiencies and effectiveness of customer experience and business processes. Our business has mainly been a connectivity business. 5G and edge computing technology either extends the existing apps to new areas or creates entirely new use cases.
One of the challenges that networks and the ecosystems have is to drive automation. Our 5G network is moving towards cloud-native software. But today it's more like disparate systems crossing cloud, transport, compute, core, and access. We’re working hard to make sure the required cross domain automation happens as quickly as possible to deliver the best and simplest 5G business solutions.
With a clear convergence of telecom and IT, with cloud at the edge, we believe 5G requires a true MNO transformation. A different approach is required when engineering a fully integrated business solution that includes apps, hosting/edge computing and a private network or slicing. It’s very different from engineering for connectivity, which was very lucrative in the past but is getting commoditized.
BIG 5G: What are some of the increased security exposure issues you have seen come up duringTELUS’s 5G rollout? How did you overcome these?
BB: 5G non-standalone (NSA) is based out of 3GPP Standards with rich security features to deal with today’s cybersecurity challenges. As you know, NSA is based on LTE architecture, and LTE has been deployed in the market for more than 10 years with proven track record on security and privacy protection, so purely from an NSA perspective, the security concerns have been very minimal.
The addition of the NR hasn’t altered the architecture significantly and our main goal has been to secure the standalone (SA) architecture that will follow. Another one I want to highlight is MEC. MEC has arrived almost before 5G and this is generating more work for the security team than the NSA deployment. While we have had an NFV architecture prior to this, the introduction of 3rd-party apps and the need for control for these has introduced security concerns around access to APIs. TELUS has done work on securing our NFV environment to be able to support cloud-orchestrated MEC workloads as we experiment with what these look like in our environment.
BIG 5G: Why did you decide to participate in The BIG 5G Event 2020? What are you most looking forward to?
BB: During this pandemic, it’s more difficult than usual to remain aware of the latest trends and developments in our industry. A virtual event is the best available solution these days, and I really enjoy the transparency from MNOs and suppliers participants.