The future is bright due to the innovations in 5G and consequential infrastructure buildout ahead according to Mo Katibeh, AT&T’s VP for Network Infrastructure and Build. At AT&T, Katibeh manages over $16 billion in annual spending for the carrier and a workforce of 50,000 employees and contractors. Although Katibeh’s remarks came late in the day at yesterday’s Connect(X) 2021 in Orlando, they delivered an energetic message to the assembled audience of about 300.
“This is just the beginning,” Katibeh said regarding new 5G applications coming online. “We are about to have experiences that weren’t possible before.”
Smart farming, smart vehicles incorporated into smarter landscapes in cities and rural areas were part of the broad overview Katibeh outlined. “That’s the punchline,” he said referring to the industry at large, “our mission is to create new networks and drive intelligence for a better future.”
Katibeh talked about one application backed by AT&T that had personal meaning to him, Bookful, an augmented reality technology that brings books and characters to life and transforms reading into an immersive experience. He said his six year old daughter is now an avid reader, far beyond his abilities at that age, due to the app. “It turned her screentime into booktime,” he said.
The pandemic, according to Katibeh, was the driver behind a 40 percent increase in fixed wireless and mobile usage and was accompanied by a surge in date uplinks. However, he said, even with a slow return to some normalcy, the trends have not stopped and show no signs of coming down. “To me, that means a staggering growth in new jobs created. We have hired thousands of new employees in the last year alone.”
Katibeh said fiber infrastructure buildout is a key to development and growth and is being supported by public funding in addition to backing from major venture capital firms.
The other key factor in achieving a 5G future is the demand and supply of labor to make it happen. “We need to lean in on creating schools and training academies,” Katibeh said, “It is how we can build the next generation together.”