The biggest trends in networking technology

Vodafone Ireland’s Sheila Kavanagh explains how far networks have come and how the power of 5G can meet a range of challenges.

Sheila Kavanagh has been with Vodafone for many years, rising through the ranks through several management positions including Head of Network Engineering and Technical Director.

She now works as Network Manager for Vodafone Ireland, focusing on creating new products tailored to the needs of each Vodafone customer segment.

“This can range from more complex custom solutions such as mobile private networks, corporate networks, network slicing, and less complex solutions for inside and outside the home, such as our Secure digital protection solution. Net recently launched,” she said.

“There is a huge opportunity for businesses across Ireland to commit to 5G connectivity”

What are the biggest challenges you face in the current landscape?

Like all other businesses and industries, both in Ireland and around the world, inflationary pressures are a growing challenge. Specifically, with respect to our network, energy costs represent a significant portion of our total costs and are highly volatile.

However, we adopt innovative, sustainable and creative methods to try to at least limit energy consumption and be as efficient and environmentally friendly as possible, even if unit costs continue to rise.

First, all of our Irish operations are powered by 100% electricity from renewable sources.

Second, through a unique pilot project using machine learning, we have developed intelligent energy management capability for our network. The project allows us to analyze traffic patterns on the network throughout the day, in real time, so that we can identify the periods of the day when we can be more energy efficient with our consumption.

What do you think of digital transformation?

The digitization of our network, what we call “smart grids”, is the future and is at the heart of our strategy. The digitization of networks can have two meanings, both internally for us as an organization in the operation of our network, and externally for the products we offer to our customers.

Internally, this means that we want to be able to seamlessly optimize, scale and operate our network through automation. Our energy management tool, which uses machine learning to analyze network traffic, is the perfect example. For this reason, we are committed to growing and developing our employees to expand their software development skills and to hire new software development skills into the team.

Recently, we announced our ambition to hire 7,000 new software engineers into our European workforce by 2025. This ambition, combined with our exciting strategy, makes Vodafone a very attractive company to work for.

An external aspect of network digitization relates to the vast expanses of aggregated data in our network that can provide useful insights and insights into a range of trends, opportunities and challenges occurring in our world.

For example, thanks to IoT solutions, Irish farmers could measure gas emissions or irrigation levels on farms. From a collective and aggregated perspective, this data would provide clear value to those monitoring climate change actions and policies.

How can sustainability be approached from a network perspective?

As mentioned, all of our Irish operations are powered by 100% electricity from renewable sources. This means that our mobile and fixed networks, data centers, retail outlets and offices are all powered by green energy. Together, this is equivalent to the annual energy consumption of 27,000 Irish homes. And we have achieved this through our revised mid-2021 target, having originally planned to do so by 2025.

We are also focused on building a circular economy at Vodafone – for example, all network equipment in Ireland is recycled or reused by another market, as part of a broad effort across Europe to reuse excess or retired inventory. We also reuse, resell or recycle 98.7% of our network waste in Europe and this will be 100% by 2025.

Along with our net zero ambitions, Vodafone aims to use the network, technologies, services and products it offers consumers and customers can help them achieve their own ESG ambitions. Vodafone aims to help customers reduce emissions by 350 megatonnes between 2020 and 2030.

The IoT helps customers reduce their emissions in different ways. For example, in the logistics industry, IoT can be used to identify optimal delivery routes to save time, optimize fleet management and productivity, and reduce fuel consumption.

What big tech trends do you think are changing the world?

Although the rollout of 5G has yet to have a significant impact from a consumer perspective, there is a huge opportunity for businesses across Ireland to engage with 5G connectivity to realize cost savings. efficiency in their operations.

They can experiment and test new and emerging technologies and better use data analytics to improve business performance. We have a particular focus on manufacturing and have recently renewed our partnership with the Irish Manufacturing Research Center to develop the first standalone 5G mobile private network installed at the site last year.

We now provide a Multiple Access Edge Computing (MEC) environment for more secure connectivity and powerful computing at the network edge in places that previously could not be connected.

MEC will enable the development of applications that require low latency such as telerobotics – remotely controlled semi-autonomous machines – and computer vision systems to automate tasks that can only be done using vision human.

We recently held a ‘5G for Manufacturing’ event at the Irish Manufacturing Research Centre, which demonstrated the power of 5G in an industrial context to over 30 organizations in Ireland with a particular interest in how it can be deployed in industrial and commercial environments.

We showcased a number of these applications leveraging our unique 5G and MEC infrastructure spanning augmented reality and telebot use cases. The possibilities for industry are truly endless when you apply the power of 5G connectivity to solve problems on the factory floor, especially in the context of rising inflationary pressures where automation and efficiency are paramount for businesses.

How can we address the security challenges your industry is currently facing?

Unfortunately, there has been a huge increase in ransomware and cybercrime activity around the world over the past year and businesses across all industries and scales are facing security challenges.

Remote or hybrid working is certainly changing the way we need to approach cybersecurity. People on the move, accessing corporate systems from different locations and from different devices, means there are more areas where a vulnerability can exist. With hybrid operation now here to stay, it is imperative that the security model used and ensures that it is fit for purpose in the new world.

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