As technology continues its rapid advance, we find ourselves moving away from the era of legacy 2G and 3G networks. The future is clearly 5G, and it promises much more than just lightning-fast data speeds. Beyond data, 5G is set to revolutionise voice calls through VoNR (Voice over New Radio), provide robust support to IoT devices, and establish highly reliable communication systems. These are exciting prospects, but they come with a demand for crucial 5G skills that is higher than ever before.
In this article, we’ll explore the trajectory of 5G networks, the promise of VoNR technology, and what this means for the future skills landscape and hiring needs of the telecommunications industry. To gain deeper insights into this dynamic marketplace and learn how Troi can assist telcos with their hiring requirements, we invite you to connect with our Telco specialists, Joe and Dan.
The Transition from Data-Only to VoNR
Presently, most 5G networks primarily offer data-only services, focusing on mobile broadband. However, a significant breakthrough occurred when EE (BT) revealed that it had successfully conducted the UK’s first call over 5G using Voice over New Radio technology (VoNR). While this achievement is noteworthy, the question remains: how long until such technology becomes commonplace?
To put this in context, it’s essential to remember that the evolution of 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) initially followed a data-centric approach before adopting Voice over LTE (VoLTE). This transition is now crucial for 5G because older 2G and 3G networks are gradually being phased out, leaving 4G and 5G to take over the reins.
One significant aspect of VoNR, or Vo5G, is that it requires a true end-to-end 5G Standalone (SA) network to function efficiently. Such networks offer multiple benefits, including ultra-low latency, enhanced upload speeds, network slicing capabilities, improved support for Internet of Things (IoT) devices, increased reliability, and better security.
Currently, most existing 5G networks are non-Standalone, meaning they still rely on older and slower 4G infrastructure, limiting their potential.
Howard Watson, BT’s Chief Security and Networks Officer, emphasises the importance of this shift: “At present, voice calls are supported by 2G and 4G, and the soon-to-be-retired 3G. Ensuring that 5G also provides this function is crucial to supporting a genuine 5G Standalone experience – as well as offering a further voice option for customers.”
Many aspects of EE’s underlying network infrastructure are ready for Standalone 5G technology. They’re actively upgrading key radio sites across the country and issuing 5G SA-capable SIMs to customers. However, deploying this technology nationwide will be a slow, expensive, and intricate process that won’t happen overnight. Furthermore, customers will need supporting smartphones to fully benefit from the new technology.
As of now, Vodafone is the sole UK operator that has launched a package based on their own 5G SA network, known as ‘5G Ultra.’ Yet, this is only available in select urban areas, including parts of London, Manchester, Glasgow, and Cardiff. While EE is likely to follow suit, it’s crucial to understand that the widespread adoption of 5G for voice calls will take time.
The Future Skills Landscape and Hiring Needs
The transition from legacy networks to 5G is an exciting journey, but it also marks a significant shift in the skills and expertise required in the telecommunications industry. The demand for 5G-related skills is skyrocketing, and professionals who can navigate this changing landscape will be in high demand.
With the advent of VoNR and Standalone 5G networks, telecom companies need a workforce that understands and can harness the full potential of this technology. This extends beyond network engineers to include professionals with expertise in IoT, cybersecurity, and specialized applications that rely on ultra-low latency and high reliability.
To address this evolving skills landscape, companies are faced with the challenge of hiring the right talent. This is where Troi comes into play. Whether through embedded hiring or project-based recruitment solutions, Troi can assist telcos in identifying and attracting the top talent with the 5G skills and knowledge essential for the future of the industry.
The future of telecommunications is 5G, and with VoNR and Standalone 5G, it’s evolving rapidly. Telcos that invest in the right skills and talent will be best positioned to lead the way in this dynamic landscape. To better understand how Troi can assist you with your hiring needs in this evolving telco industry, we invite you to connect with our Telco specialists. They are well-equipped to guide you through the intricate world of 5G and help your organisation stay ahead of the curve.