Mobile Europe will announce its CTO of the Year 2016 on 6 April. In the run up to next week’s announcement, we are profiling each of the shortlisted nominees. Today we look at Proximus’s Geert Standaert.
Proximus’s CTO has been one of the central figures in establishing LoRa as a technology for operators to power Internet of Things networks. The low power, long distance technology is seen as a way for operators to get involved with the IoT until a cellular standard is agreed upon.
The operator was a founding member of the LoRa Alliance, which has seen more than 200 companies join since it was formed a year ago. Standaert has built LoRa networks in major Belgian cities, with plans to extend further into Luxembourg this year.
He has also focused on improving Proximus customers’ mobile experience. The incumbent became the first operator in Belgium to launch LTE-Advanced, which is now available across all major cities and the coast.
Its LTE network has grown to cover 99.8 percent of the population, up from 85 percent a year ago. However, it has been indoor experience that really caught the eye, with coverage improving from 58.9 percent to 93.4 percent.
Proximus has worked on improving coverage across major train lines, highways and public place, as well as inside tunnels. This lead to call completion rates improving to around the 99 percent mark.
Standaert also launched a Mobile Coverage Extender for residential customers. The femtocell technology plugs into a home internet gateway to ensure smartphones can still be used indoors.
Further, the operator developed a smart Wi-Fi solution to automatically switch between cellular and Proximus Wi-Fi hotspots across the country.
Other highlights during the past year include re-engineering its network to maximise the experience of certain apps, such as Facebook. It also optimised its TCP protocol mechanism, which it said led to internet browsing speeds being improved by 19 percent.
Speeds were also improved in rural areas following research with the University of Louvain-La-Neuve, Tessares. Researchers developed a copper/LTE bonding solution which improved service.
Other research work included a 5G research partnership with the University of Brussels to develop 5G infrastructure for its campus.
The CTO of the Year award will be announced on 6 April. Candidates were judged by an independent panel and rated according to operational excellence, innovation, customer experience and impact.