5G networks will require better use of artificial intelligence, process automation and cloud-based solutions, than we have seen so far, according to Vodafone CTO Johan Wibergh

Operators will need to harness the full power of artificial intelligence (AI) and process automation technology to cope with the data generated on their 5G networks, according to Johan Wibergh, chief technology officer at Vodafone Group.

"We need to focus on full automation and artificial intelligence. The networks are becoming so complex and we are talking about such vast amounts of information," he told journalists at a press event on Wednesday.

"[We need to look at] how we can automate our networks more and use artificial intelligence to help us identify where the problems are and how we can fix them," Wibergh said.

The sheer scale of big data generated by the Internet of Things (IoT) will make it almost impossible for humans to manually manage the networks themselves, making the use of AI and process automation essential.

IoT take up has already begun in earnest, with Vodafone adding an additional 2 million IoT devices to its networks every month.

"All of this, of course, means a lot more introduction of open source, which is based in the cloud," said Wibergh.

Vodafone is scaling up its networks in preparation for 5G, increasingly relying on cloud-based solutions to deliver automated services. 

"The date is approaching when we will no longer purchase any products that are not cloud-based. That date is coming soon," Wibergh said.

"We are in the process of scaling up our two biggest services, namely voice and data, and all of that scaling up will be done exclusively on cloud-based architecture," he added.

The introduction of narrowband IoT technology is also helping Vodafone deliver its IoT services.

"We have launched narrowband IoT in seven countries and next year we expect to have full coverage in the markets where we are established with 4G nationwide coverage of narrowband IoT," Wibergh said.