INTERVIEW: Telenor Group CEO Sigve Brekke (pictured) is confident 5G has the potential to drive growth as operators launch new IoT services benefiting from the power of AI running on faster mobile networks.
“We see the perfect storm coming… when you combine IoT with AI and 5G and get this enormous amount of data. This is now happening in the Scandinavian markets, and because of that we are taking positions on both IoT and AI, but we are also now starting on 5G,” he told Mobile World Live.
He said Telenor is looking at a commercial 5G launch in the first or second quarter of 2020, with the first rollouts in Europe before moving deployments to Asia (it has operations in Bangladesh, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan and Thailand).
Last month the operator launched a third 5G pilot in Denmark on both its core and access networks with Nokia. It is already running two pilots in Norway with Huawei and Ericsson.
Testing use cases
Brekke said it has a multiple-vendor strategy and is trying out three different types of use cases: fixed wireless access as a fibre replacement; industrial applications in manufacturing and agriculture in the private sector; and the public sector in the area of medical and emergency services.
“All this is about getting some experience on where we think 5G can be applied,” he said.
The group is in the middle of a modernisation programme started two years ago aimed at improving the efficiency of its networks and streamlining its IT structure by taking advantage of digitalisation and new software platforms. It has made thousands of job cuts.
He noted the programme is global: “We are now implementing scalable software platforms and virtualising networks. That is done globally. When it comes to the digitalisation of the customer journey, it is also a global programme but is implemented differently from market to market.”
And in terms of M&A activity, Brekke referenced the company’s recent exit from India and some central and eastern European markets, with a specific focus now on two geographical regions – Scandinavia and south east Asia – where the operator claims to hold number one or two positions in each market.
“If we were to expand it would be in the same two geographical areas and in the same core business as we already have,” he noted.
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