LIVE FROM GLOBAL MBB FORUM, DUBAI: Marco Zangani, chief network officer at Vodafone Italia (pictured), argued the time is now right for the operator to leave an initially pragmatic approach to deploying 5G behind and accelerate a revenue-generation strategy for the technology.

Following initial trials in 2018, Zangani said Vodafone opted not to start its 5G journey with massive deployment covering all of its operating countries.

Such an approach “was really not possible, given the high level of competition”.

Instead, it focused primarily on the customer and took action where it saw demand for advanced services.

Today, Vodafone has deployed 5G in 332 cities in Europe, while claiming numerous firsts in the continent including roaming in 2019, a standalone network in 2021 through Vodafone Germany and deployment of the first hybrid private network in 2022.

With a solid foundation in place, Zangani provided a three-pillar strategy towards cashing-in on the next-generation technology including providing fibre-like data rates, offering premium services through Massive MIMO and deploying private networks, an area where the executive believes “the real 5G services and applications can be seen”.

“Here, we expect the real potential of 5G will be unleashed,” he said.

The company highlighted four potential sectors where private networks could prove a cash cow: ports; factories; healthcare; and campus and industrial areas.

He cited automated guided vehicles, connected mobile workers, asset tracking and AR as potential use cases.

Zangani added private networks helped ease pressure on the industry somewhat, providing operators the ability to implement key elements of the 5G ecosystem without massive additional investment.

He added the next development of 5G would likely come through implementing a multi-service network, which serves as a single, programmable low-latency infrastructure with standalone and slicing capabilities, along with delivery of real-time applications.