Vodafone Group CEO Nick Read announced last month that Vodafone 5G has reached five European markets and one African nation, in a major strategy shift from the second leading telecom operator in the world.
Vodafone’s earlier strategy towards 4G was “go slow and react to market demand when needed.” But Vodafone learnt lessons from its 4G network plans. At present Vodafone, the world’s second largest telecoms, is ahead of all leading mobile operators in terms of 5G launches.
When Vodafone decided to take a go slow approach during the 4G roll outs by its rivals, it saved on Capex. But it lost mobile phone customers and mobile ARPU to 4G operators as they won data-hungry customers.
Johan Wibergh is the group chief technology officer of Vodafone, responsible for the selection of network suppliers, framing Capex plans, among others.
Vodafone 5G is available in Spain, Italy and Romania from June, and the UK and Germany from July. “Our 5G network will be live across more than 50 cities and available in nine European markets by the end of March 2020,” Nick Reed said.
Vodafone Germany is switching on its 5G network in 20 German towns and cities. It offers 5G deals for smartphone users starting at 14.99 euros ($16.80) per month for the first year.
Vodafone’s 5G network will cover 25 cities, 25 municipalities and 10 industrial parks in Germany this year. It will reach 10 million users in 2020, and 20 million in 2021. It pursues a dual vendor strategy for its networks, using China’s Huawei and Sweden’s Ericsson.
Vodafone Italia switched on its 5G network in five cities across the country in June 2019. Vodafone Italy spent 2.4 billion euros or $2.8 billion on new airwaves for 5G services.
South Africa’s Vodacom launched Africa’s first 5G internet service in Lesotho in 2018 August.
Vodafone Romania has extended the 5G coverage in Cluj-Napoca and the seaside resort of Mamaia and launched the first 5G subscriptions in the country. Vodafone launched the first 5G sites in Romania in May, using its existing network capabilities. Romania plans to conduct 5G spectrum auction at the end of this year.
Vodafone Spain said its 5G mobile network covers 15 cities including Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Seville. Around half of the residents in these cities will able to enjoy the high-speed network service. Vodafone paid 198 million euros for 90 MHZ during the 5G spectrum auction.
Vodafone UK switched on its 5G network in seven British cities in July 2019. The 5G mobile network is going live in seven UK cities, including Cardiff, London, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool and Glasgow. Vodafone UK will launch 5G in 12 additional towns and cities later this year.
Vodafone is yet to generate significant returns from its 5G investment in network and spectrum. Its main focus is on smartphone customers who want to access high-speed data for their applications. Vodafone will start focusing on enterprise customers during the next level of expansion.