LIVE FROM 5G WEEK, LONDON: Major operators Vodafone UK, Three UK, Virgin Media O2 and BT UK explained demand for standalone (SA) 5G enterprise services was high, but companies were hesitant to pull the trigger due to high costs.

On a keynote panel, Vodafone UK head of infrastructure and energy Francesca Serravalle (pictured, second from left) noted the current economic climate had restricted operator moves to achieve the full business potential offered by the technology.

Serravalle explained automakers including BMW and Ford Motor Company were among those employing Vodafone’s SA 5G network, adding the technology “is unique because it can drive more business models and enable network slicing”.

The executive tipped cloud platforms and accessible APIs as crucial factors in emerging enterprises.

Viraj Abhayawardhana, principal network strategy at BT (pictured, far right), noted building SA 5G infrastructure requires time and huge investment, which may be hard to justify compared with “4G or public Wi-Fi” networks which can be “fit for purpose in customer use cases”.

But he noted SA 5G “can be a game changer for business operations”.

During the panel, experts from all four companies argued an investment-friendly environment would be beneficial to progress 5G enterprise offerings, citing red tape and regulations as hindrances.