Outgoing Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao (pictured) warned the industry was too obsessed with “technology definitions” and should focus on whatever access technology makes both business sense and meets demand.

Speaking at the company’s earnings press conference, Colao said the service available on enhanced 4G networks was more than enough to deliver media and other services currently required by the market. 5G, he added, would become more relevant further down the line as applications requiring lower latency are developed.

“We are too obsessed with the technology definition,” the executive said. “It’s not about the race to technology it’s a race on quality, speed and latency.”

“You can only use whatever technology makes more sense from a financial point of view,” he added, describing 5G as a “solid, strong evolution” in network technology, but noting it would take years to gain a solid footprint.

The executive forecast operators would eventually use 5G and 4G alongside a “small amount” of 2G. He predicted 3G would disappear completely.

His comments come a day after operators in the Middle East claimed a number of commercial “5G” firsts and amid increasingly bullish statements from operators around the world hailing their readiness for launches of the new network technology.

Fight for Liberty
Colao, who is stepping down in October, stated among his main priorities in his last months in the job would be to meet with authorities in Brussels and Berlin to help the approvals process for an acquisition of Liberty Global’s assets in Germany and other markets in continental Europe.

Although Deutsche Telekom CEO Timotheus Hoettges has poured scorn on Vodafone’s chances of the deal getting through regulators, Colao emphasised he was confident the acquisition raised no regulatory issues.

His other priorities include overseeing the conclusion of the merger of its unit in India with Idea Cellular – expected to be complete in June.