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Kostas Katsaros on Edge Computing, IIoT and Mobile Networks

In the “5G: Secure What Matters” blog post series, we showcase thought leaders and their unique perspectives on the intersection of 5G, security, and technology. We recently sat down with Kostas Katsaros, senior 5G technologist at Digital Catapult to get his views on 5G.

Tell us about yourself?

My name is Kostas Katsaros and I am a senior 5G technologist at Digital Catapult. As part of the 5G technology team, I find myself mostly working on R&D projects with technologies such as edge computing, supporting SMEs with the adoption and understanding of 5G for their solutions and consulting a wide range of stakeholders on advances of 5G technology.

What do you think 5G means for the future of mobility?

5G will have an impact on many aspects of our everyday lives and since we spend[1] about two hours daily commuting to and from work, it seems imperative to improve mobile services for our journeys. With 8 billion passengers travelled on national railway networks in the EU-27 in 2018[2], getting proper 5G connectivity to them is challenging and it is one of the key targets for the H2020 5G-VICTORI project that Digital Catapult participates in. 5G will not only improve connectivity for the passengers, but also the signaling and control operations for the rail operators, hence increasing the reliability of rail services.

What challenges do you see in 5G security and 5G deployments?

Technology is moving very fast and 5G is not a single set of specifications that can be deployed right away. Mobile network operators have their strategy to deploy 5G and enable associated features, but they will not be uniform across the globe, not even across a country. These deployments are demand driven, creating potential digital gaps, and that’s where proper education needs to be for businesses to see the benefits of 5G for their applications and services which then will build the business case for further deployment of 5G.

What are some of the top 5G security challenges?

5G will not serve just people and their need for mobile broadband, even though 70 percent of traffic is expected to be video streaming. Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and generally machine-type communication will be a key application, which is linked to critical infrastructure. With a prediction of billions of such connected devices, the attack surface for 5G systems increases exponentially. Further, with the movement to virtual infrastructures and cloud-based architectures that rely on open technologies, there is a significant need for security capabilities that go well beyond today’s provisions.

What’s the most important change/benefit in what 5G will make for you (or your organization)?

Digital Catapult brings together innovators, businesses and technology partners to explore and accelerate the adoption and application of 5G to meet real-world challenges through purposeful innovation. 5G has created a platform for experimentation, which we have adopted through a series of facilities (5G testbed) on top of which we can investigate real-world applications and try to solve both technical and business challenges.

What is the top business problem/challenge that you hope could be resolved with 5G technology?

Features of 5G technology such as network slicing and softwarisation & cloudification of the protocol stack (from radio to core) enable a wide range of enterprise use cases. That can promote a convergence of the IT infrastructure and future proof it, reducing the operational costs, downtime and system failures. This increases productivity and has long-term benefits for businesses.

In five years, where do you think we will be in using 5G?

With the push and hype around 5G technology, I expect that in five years, we would have the coverage to offer high-capacity services on the move to the majority of users and will start to reap the benefits from advanced features and capabilities, like ultra-low-latency communications for automation and control, in enterprise and industrial settings. At the same time, research towards the next generation of mobile communications (6G) would have started and taken shape looking towards more automation and artificial intelligence (AI) powered network operations.

[1] Or at least used to spend pre-COVID


About Kostas Katsaros

Kostas Katsaros is a senior 5G technologist at Digital Catapult. He provides oversight and guidance on specific 5G system architecture implementations to Digital Catapult projects, especially around new architectures using virtualization and edge computing. He is currently the technical manager for 5G Festival project and coordinates the contributions for H2020 5G-VICTORI project. Prior to that, Katsaros was a research fellow at Institute for Communication Systems / 5G Innovation Centre (ICS/5GIC) at the University of Surrey. His research was focused on connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) and how mobile edge computing (MEC) could assist autonomous driving.

Katsaros has extensive experience on vehicular/mobile networks, where he investigated networking and transport protocols. Further, he is interested in how these networks are used to improve society and the novel business opportunities that arise from them. He has participated in several European and national projects and has co-authored more than 30 peer-reviewed technical articles and conference papers. Katsaros also holds two patents on hybrid vehicular networking architectures.