Projects have fallen off his wish list during the Covid-19 response but Vodafone chief executive Jason Paris has no plans to apply the brakes to deployment of its 5G network, as the firm focuses on the "internet of things."
"It is a massive opportunity for business, offering lower latency, speed and security," he said.
"New Zealand was the 22nd country in the world to roll it out and that was important for us not to get left behind.
"5G brings applications for remote health, autonomous vehicles and things like smart sensors, which allow schools to halve their heating bills, for example."
Paris said while some operating expenditure and strategic moves had been shelved as the firm shifted into "survival minimum" mode, there were those investments that were the "right things to do" for the longer-term business and its customers.
He told a Trans-Tasman Business Circle video conference yesterday that because data usage was up overall that didn't mean telcos were making more money.
"Our roaming revenue stopped overnight during shutdown. People are using wifi at home and more people using more data means we have to upgrade our services, with the extra cost of doing that."
He said from a customer perspective there was also an increased number of hardship requests and provision for bad debts. "So we are helping customers navigate that."
Paris said that, until its sale to the Infratil/Brookfield Asset Management consortium last May for $3.4 billion, Vodafone NZ had been effectively "held back" for the previous five years during which investment was constrained and it was executing to a Vodafone Group strategic template, 50 per cent of which was irrelevant to New Zealand.
"Under the consortium, we are focused 100 per cent on our New Zealand strategy, so we now have a massive opportunity to be more cloud-based and more agile."
He said the New Zealand and Canadian ownership mix had also created a positive dynamic. "They have different bents, with their level of aggression and retail balancing well – overall we have a clear vision as to where we'll be in three to five years' time."
Unlocking regional talent
Vodafone was reviewing how changes to the workplace could change the way it ran its own business.
As an example, some companies which had previously declined to have people working outside Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch, were now unlocking regional capabilities.
Paris said that might result in reduced office space, and headcount, across Vodafone's main offices.