LIVE FROM HUAWEI’S GLOBAL MOBILE BROADBAND FORUM 2017, LONDON: The mobile industry needs to focus on what 5G can deliver in the near future, rather than looking at far-off use cases, Johan Wibergh, Vodafone Group CTO explained, noting efficiency is a major selling point.
“The increased efficiency that you are getting means that 5G is significantly more cost efficient than 4G. And if you look at cost, you almost have a ten-times cost efficiency with 5G. And I don’t understand why we as an industry are not talking more about this, because in the beginning of 5G there is going to be much more mobile broadband usage, and cost is a challenge for us,” Wibergh (pictured) said.
“We know that at the end of the day we need to make a business case to make this work,” he continued, noting improved efficiency could play a part in this.
Hype versus reality
The Vodafone executive said he would like to see “a somewhat more balanced discussion” about what 5G can offer.
“We have a tendency in our industry to overhype things,” Wibergh said: “I think as an industry we got 2G and 4G very right, it was technology that worked and gave great services for our customers, made business cases work for the operators and work for the vendors. If we think about 3G, that wasn’t a success in many parts of the world. The question is now with 5G.”
“Sometimes when we talk about 5G, we forget that a standard is typically valid for ten years. And sometimes when we talk about things, we talk at what will happen in the first one or two years. Sometimes we will talk about what will happen in the last two years. If we don’t talk to people about when things will happen, you get a message people won’t understand,” he observed.
“I meet a lot of investors and industry analysts, and there is a lot of disbelief about 5G, especially if we talk about the things that will happen in the last two years, and we don’t explain the first two years. But if we talk about the enhanced cost efficiency and the things we can do in the first two years, you get a much more realistic scenario,” Wibergh said.
Vodafone was awarded spectrum in Italy to build a 5G trial network in the Milan metropolitan area, with the intention to put in 120 base stations to give full coverage of the area in the coming years.
“We will then test 41 different use cases with 28 partners. It’s to test the technical feasibility, the economic benefits, and the operational requirements to make these things work,” he said.