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Another step towards building the future of 5G in the UK

  • 3 minute read
  • Published by Crispin Moller on 11 Feb 2021
  • Last modified 16 Feb 2021
By Antonella Faniuolo, Head of Network Strategy & Digital Transformation at Vodafone UK and UK5G Advisory Board member

In the November UK5G newsletter, I talked about our ambition to grow beyond the borders of a traditional telecoms company. Today, I will share an example of how we are doing that.

Vodafone recently announced the launch of Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) services in partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS), one of the world’s leading cloud computing companies. This is a very important step forward for our ambition to find innovation in the intersection between 5G and digital. MEC services are a vital part, as is building bridges with innovative partners.

Up until now, 5G has been more about offering faster connectivity than 4G. This works for certain applications and services, but doesn’t in itself justify the vast investment in 5G technology.  And is it enough to move us closer to becoming a hybrid telecommunications and technology company, or encourage the creation of new services for the digital society? My gut feeling says that no, this is not enough.

MEC capabilities, on the other hand, allow us to bring services closer to the end-user and create applications that benefit from the low-latency promise of 5G. If data can be processed and actioned on the edge of the network, transmission costs as well as application response time are reduced. We can then start building services such as autonomous vehicles and mobile-based virtual reality that would not be realistic without MEC.

This would bring huge benefit  to our partners. We can start to have conversations that move beyond connectivity alone and we can begin to co-create services that bring together 5G and digital.

Collaboration has been discussed for years, but in most cases, conversations with telecoms operators have focused exclusively on connectivity. Today, the discussion is still on connectivity, but with the added element of the edge. All of a sudden the industry becomes much more innovative, because we are talking about ideas that do not exist today.

I would like to set a challenge to my partners and colleagues in UK5G. We’ve been talking about the edge for years, it is now time to figure out what this actually means. We have an advantage in the UK because only a few other markets can offer both 5G and MEC. The challenge is to figure out how this can be translated into economic opportunity and how we can use these capabilities to create something we have not seen before and that can benefit the wider community.

We need to approach challenges in a new way and we should not be afraid of the unknown. Let’s continue the conversation and create the future together.

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