Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom and Orange were all talking up the importance of fast 5G rollout in Europe, on day two of MWC 2019

If day one was dominated by announcements from the network equipment providers, day two definitely belonged to the network operators.

5G was once again the first order of business on everyone’s agenda, with plenty of “world’s firsts” on show.

Europe’s biggest telco by revenues, Deutsche Telekom, set the tone for the day at a packed press conference on the exhibition floor. DT’s board member for Technology and Innovation, Claudia Nemat, said that Europe was building real momentum on 5G and was determined not to be left behind the US and Asia on 5G rollout (a theme I have heard echoed from numerous sources throughout MWC 2019).

“I believe there is no way for Europe to fall behind in 5G and that is what we are striving for,” Nemat said.

“We are investing heavily in the network. We absolutely need to have 5G in Europe.”

Nemat said that DT currently operates 150 5G antennas in Europe and will continue to push ahead with pre-commercial trials across the continent. DT currently has live 5G trials underway in Germany, Austria, Greece, Hungary the Netherlands and Poland.    


Later in the day, Vodafone’s CEO Nick Read took the opportunity to speak out on 5G security in Europe, as operators look to speed up network rollout across the continent. Vodafone has been a vocal supporter of Huawei in recent months, as the Chinese tech giant has been forced to defend itself against a series of unfounded allegations from the US.  

"We need to have a fact-based risk-assessed review," Read said.

"People are saying things at the moment that are not grounded, I’m not saying that is the case for the US because I have not met them directly myself so I have not seen what evidence they have, but they clearly need to present that evidence to the right bodies throughout Europe."

Read warned that any attempt to ban Huawei from Europe’s 5G rollout programmes, or, worse still, to retroactively strip out its equipment from existing 3G and 4G networks would have disastrous consequences for operators in Europe.

“It will delay 5G in Europe by probably two years," he said. "It structurally disadvantages Europe."


Orange’s CEO Stephane Richard, heralded the dawn of the 5G era as a potentially life changing event for consumers in Europe, as it ushers in a world of ubiquitous connectivity.   

“Intelligent connectivity is a true new frontier – and operators need to prepare for it since it’s from there that so many new opportunities will emerge.

“The roll-out of 5G, of course, will be the first building block. Combined with Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things, this will pave the way for new and promising services such as telemedicine or connected cars… and those are just a few examples that we can imagine today,” he said.

Richard took the opportunity to remind the industry that it still needed to focus on innovation and be prepared to evolve its business models, if it was to properly capitalise on the full potential of 5G.

“Intelligent connectivity comes with new business models, and the range of possibilities is unlimited: operators should look to their enduring customer relationships to design and co-build the services of tomorrow,” he said.


Also in the news:

Europe lagging  on 5G? Don’t be so sure, says Ericsson

Just how secure is 5G?

5G Fanfare – MWC 2019 day one round-up