Creating a seamless converged experience.

Paul Crane Head of Mobile, Wireless & Network Services

The ability to provide world-class connectivity across converged networks is an absolute priority for BT.

After all, our customers demand it.

Whether they happen to be consumer, business, or enterprise customers, they all want to be able to consume apps, services, entertainment and content over a seamless connection, wherever they are.

And even though our customers don’t really care if they’re using one type of network or another, we know that our research initiatives can produce outcomes which help make their ‘converged’ experience more seamless.

That’s why our research mission is to accelerate the adoption of converged networks.

Increasingly, this is moving beyond just combining the best of fixed and mobile technologies and innovating around that. Now, it’s all about exploring the possibilities of virtualised environments such as cloud-centric networks and IT convergence.

One area of focus for us is expanding the reach and coverage of our fixed and mobile networks into rural areas.

New ways of connecting people

Our work has helped to develop new ways of connecting people. For example, last year BT and EE announced heli-kite and drone solutions for bringing 4G coverage to people in hard to reach areas.

It was our research that led to the development of this solution including creating miniaturised radio base stations intelligent enough to connect to the nearest large base station to be able to provide that coverage.

Connecting flights

The next step will be to evolve the tethered heli-kites to become fleets of autonomous flying base stations. We’re looking at meshing four or five of these kites or drones together and deploying them as and when people need them. Potentially, their autonomy can be increased if they were supported by wireless charging platforms.

What we are doing here with our flying base stations is unique around the world. Nobody else is innovating or changing the industry in this way like BT.

But it doesn’t stop there.

Networks fit for autonomous vehicles

Our work looking at what 5G can deliver for the transport industry is well advanced. In particular, research around connected cars and trains and how 5G network slicing could help deliver dedicated, low-latency networks which are essential for the large-scale introduction of safe and secure connected vehicles.

And because 5G will be based on virtualised infrastructures, we are carrying out a broad spectrum of research initiatives looking at programmable networking and software-defined networks (SDN) and network functions virtualisations (NVF) and how they can empower our customers.