Vodafone CTO: 5G Is Overhyped & It’s Mainly About Cost

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LONDON — Global Mobile Broadband Forum 2017 — Vodafone’s chief technology officer has downplayed expectations that 5G will quickly lead to new business opportunities for telcos and said the next-generation mobile technology is largely about cost efficiencies.

Speaking at a mobile broadband conference hosted by Chinese equipment giant Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. in London, Johan Wibergh warned the industry against initially “overhyping” 5G and said it would benefit operators in the first two years of rollout mainly by helping them to slash operating expenditure when providing mobile broadband services.

“The increased efficiency that you get from massive MIMO and radio that can handle up to 100 megahertz means 5G is about ten times more cost efficient than 4G,” he told conference attendees during a morning keynote session. “We should be talking more about this because at first it will be about mobile broadband, and cost is a challenge with growing data volumes.”

Cheerleaders for the standard have argued that 5G will support a range of exciting new applications, including robots and self-driving cars. But some investors and analysts remain skeptical that it will lead to an increase in service revenues for the operators introducing the standard.

“There is little to support the idea that enhancing networks with 5G will increase revenues,” says Bengt Nordström, the managing director of the Northstream consulting group, pointing out that telco revenues in western Europe have been declining since 2008 despite the rollout of higher-speed technologies.

“For me 5G is about efficiency,” adds Nordström. “It is a tool to become even more streamlined and maintain margins in a market that will probably continue to decline.”

Acknowledging there was skepticism about 5G in the investor…