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News | 24 Sep 2021

5G World: ‘Technology needs a purpose – ours is to fuel innovation’

Andrea Dona, Vodafone UK’s Chief Network Officer, spoke about the significant potential of IoT, cloud and 5G technologies during the 5G World conference at London’s ExCeL Centre.

Andrea explained that technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) are already helping the UK reach its net zero carbon objectives, as well as transforming the way we live and work.

“But we need to look beyond individual technologies,” he told the industry audience. “When you bring these new technologies together – in our case IoT, 5G, cloud – there is a catalyst.

“You get multiple layers which multiply one another to create something brilliant.”

Andrea pointed to a recent Vodafone report which suggested that the adoption of these technologies in the agriculture, manufacturing and transportation sectors could reduce the UK’s emissions by 4%.

“This intersection makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts. But only if it is accessible, simple and available to all.

“We have to be humble – we won’t be able to do this alone.”

In Vodafone’s case, this means creating a strong, open network using the very latest development in 5G technology, 5G Standalone, he said. Vodafone already has more than 30 trials of the new technology in place across London, Cardiff and Manchester.

While 5G already provides a lightning-fast speed boost, it operates ‘on top’ of the existing 4G network.

5G Standalone operates independently and delivers “even lower latency, increased reliability and enhanced security,” said Andrea.

It also allows network providers to tailor the experience for their customers with features like network slicing.

5G Standalone: Everything you need to know.

This could enable a manufacturer to prioritise bandwidth speeds for its biggest and most important machine on the production line, for example, or to a self-driving vehicle.

To do so, Andrea was clear that this new network had to be “accessible to all”, with standardised Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).

These program-to-program interactions fuel the online world, from registering for a new service using an existing social media profile, to paying for goods with a digital service like PayPal.

Allowing other technology companies to access the Vodafone network in a secure and easy way forms a key part of the company’s strategy to transform from “telco to techCo”.

Marrying the traditions of one industry with the software-focused mindset of another is no easy feat, he said, and that’s why the intersection of technologies is so important for innovation.

“We know this is a lot to focus on, but it is all critical to how we think digital should function. And, as you can see, it is all interconnected.

“The innovative ideas of the 5G era are probably not even being discussed in public today, but we are willing to bet they will sit in the intersection of everything we do,” Andrea concluded.

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