Another ‘G’ won’t be needed if industry achieves full potential of 5G technology

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Vodafone is launching its 5G network on July 3

There will be no 6G cellular network technology after 5G. That’s the view of Vodafone head of networks Andrea Dona (centre), who says 5G will mark the end of the evolution trail – but only if operators stick to exploiting the technology’s full potential.

“If we get 5G right we won’t need another ‘G’ because it is being conceived with radical future-proof architecture,” said Dona.

Dona and Vodafone chief technology officer Scott Petty were talking to a group of media and analysts on the future of networks at the operator’s UK HQ in Newbury.

Dona said the industry had been slow to achieve the full potential of previous mobile technologies. But he said 5G is better designed to integrate existing technologies such as small cells and WiFi, making it more future-proof.

“It does, however, depend on how well we adhere to the logic of how it has been engineered,” said Dona.

“We must not take shortcuts. I support the UK’s approach to go first with 5G so we can learn faster and be at the forefront.”

Vodafone will launch its 5G network on July 3, becoming the second UK operator to do so after EE’s launch last month. The company has invested more than £2 billion over three years in developing its 5G infrastructure.

Dona said Vodafone wanted to only launch a 5G network with “full functionality”. Its development will be helped by the operator switching off 3G in the next two to three years to free up spectrum – though 2G will have a longer life, as it can be used in IoT connectivity.

Petty also spoke about 5G “myths” involving site density and health issues.

“One myth is you need more sites for 5G,” he said. “That is not true for the way we are deploying 5G. We are using mid-band and low-band spectrum. You can build a fantastic 5G network with exactly the same number of base stations as at present.”

Petty dismissed health concerns by pointing out that low-frequency waves have been used for years on WiFi with no issues reported.

“Domestic WiFi uses 2.4GHz or 5GHz spectrum. This is higher power than we use on our macro networks. The World Health Organisation says there are no health issues with that spectrum.”

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