Vodafone’s Didier Clavero: ‘5G will enable us to transform nearly everything’

24 May 2019

Didier Clavero. Image: Vodafone Ireland

Vodafone Ireland’s new CTO, Didier Clavero, said that 5G will not only mean faster speeds and lower latency, it will also mean more things can be connected than ever before.

As the new CTO of Vodafone Ireland, Didier Clavero will be responsible for the roll-out of 5G and overseeing the continued implementation of Vodafone Ireland’s business and IT transformation project

Clavero brings more than 23 years’ experience from Vodafone Spain. Since joining Vodafone in December 1996, he has held a number of senior technology roles across network engineering, operations and deployment, supporting both Vodafone Group and local markets on a variety of projects.

‘We are moving from the era of connecting people to the era of connecting everything’

He managed the successful integration of Vodafone Group and Cable & Wireless networks, and the network integration of Vodafone and ONO in Spain. In his previous role as head of data core, group network engineering and delivery, Clavero led the transformation and expansion of Vodafone Group data core networks across Europe, and played a key role in Vodafone Spain’s network leadership.

Tell me about your own role and responsibilities in driving tech strategy.

I am quite excited about how we are quite advanced in Ireland in many of the technologies that are defining the years ahead. Vodafone Ireland has been leading the market in terms of innovation for the past four years. We have been leading in areas like NB-IoT, we were the first to launch 4G calling, we were also the first to do international holographic calls with Germany, and basically it is my ambition to continue leading in this space and this environment. And, of course, 5G is going to be one of the key aspects that we need to reinforce in the market.

Another priority is the Gigabit Society. We are working with ESB on the Siro roll-out of fibre in many different towns across the country. We have more than 250,000 households already passed with Siro in 40 different towns, and we will continue to deploy.

This is very important because it is not only about deploying fibre but creating what we are calling Gigabit Hubs in different towns. We have 13 hubs operational and it is really purpose-led deployment. Our target is to create up to 200 new jobs through this in the next few years. We have already created more than 100.

You see people coming back from Dublin and Cork to work in their hometowns and being able to work from these hubs. This is something we want to continue doing, to reinforce, because it is quite aligned with other priorities we have.

How aligned is Vodafone’s digital transformation with the customer journey?

We are investing more than €120m and migrating 750,000 customers to a new platform, providing the customer with a holistic, omnichannel experience across web, in app, in a retail store – in whatever context. We are providing a seamless experience to the customer and helping the customer by simplifying the interaction.

We will be working on this for the rest of the calendar year to complete the transformation for the consumer, and we will continue in the next year and a half to complete the transformation of our enterprise.

In terms of the enterprise journey, what technologies are you working on that will help Vodafone and business customers to digitally transform?

Internally in the company, we are moving from being a telco – that we have been until now – into being a technology company. In that transformation, what is important is how we can help the different enterprises we serve to really benefit from all the new technologies – not only in telecoms, but in all the different varieties of services we can offer them.

5G is going to be the big change or important step change that we will make in the industry. 5G will enable us to transform nearly everything.

We are moving from the era of connecting people to the era of connecting everything.

Everything that can be connected will be connected in the future, and we are moving to the massive internet of things, we are moving to robotics in all of our industries, we are moving to seamless experience, even if you are in or out of your premises. And we are also talking about moving closer to the customers using the cloud services. All of this combined with 5G deployment is going to be really important for how we are transforming society.

5G is going to be the most important factor in this transformation.

5G is mainly about three different factors. Of course, higher speed and more things connected, but the third factor is latency with the cloud: how we can bring apps and content closer to our customers. It could be Netflix or HBO or an enterprise-level platform.

What we are creating is the cloud infrastructure to move content and services closer to the customer.

In terms of performance, what step change will 5G mean for the average user?

We are talking about mainly three different KPIs. One important KPI will be speed/throughout – that is going to be multiplied on average by five.

The second KPI is latency – how fast the application will react when you are opening something – and this will be reduced by 10.

The final aspect is how many elements can be connected to the network. The numbers would be multiplied by around 1,000 compared to the numbers we have with NB-IoT, which has already multiplied by 10.

It is about speed, latency and the number of things connected, and this is going to be the real change the user will experience from 5G.

For example, at Mobile World Congress this year, a remote colon cancer surgery was demonstrated. This is about purpose. In less-developed economies, to be able to access the best surgery or training real doctors to do complex surgery is something that will be very beneficial in the future, and something that 5G will bring to our society that we cannot deliver today with 4G.

My message is that there are many future services that will need this latency improvement and this will be key in our transformation.

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years