VMO2 lays out private network growth strategy – Mobile World Live

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Sandeep Raithatha, head of strategy, innovation and 5G IoT at UK operator Virgin Media O2, is confident there is a sizeable market for operators to cash-in on private networks, but highlighted major barriers that need to be overcome to hit lofty targets.

Speaking on the Mobile World Live podcast, Raithatha pointed to analyst insight which indicates private 5G in particular is a growing market, citing STL Partners’ projections of a $528 million opportunity in the UK alone by 2030. The same company tips spend in the segment to hit more than $21 billion globally.

With the operator already pushing out deployments in manufacturing through a partnership with British Sugar and in healthcare with the NHS, Raithatha said implementing 5G with customers that are looking to transform their business presents a great opportunity.

“We’re seeing over the past two years that some of the early deployments are acting as a case study, and I believe it will become a catalyst,” he said.

However, the VMO2 executive acknowledged that with any new technology, while there is understandable excitement, there is also a need to meet certain requirements to ensure the industry can meet expectations.

Raithatha argued one way to drive adoption is by creating a one-stop shop for customers. This is to remove the need to find multiple solutions and try to bring them together, “because often that will lead to complexity, challenges and maybe failed deployment”.

Second, he acknowledged there is still a lot of complexity in private networks because of a need “to provide mobile operator spectrum, and a need to have specialist skills to design, deliver and manage it”.

It is therefore important for operators like VMO2 and other providers to create “their managed solutions and services “that can take the complexity away”.

Finally, to hit analyst projections, he argued the case for standalone 5G and the development of the 5G device ecosystem.

“We acknowledge it’s not going to be one organisation that is going to drive that market share and deploy all these private networks. Each organisation is going to work with each other… we’re going to need those 5G devices that will drive better business benefits and outcomes.”

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