Vodafone Gigabit UK 5G trial in seven cities

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If you’ve ever been peeved at a slow phone signal then good news is coming. Vodafone, who have a 21% share of the mobile marketshare, have just announced a 5G trial in seven UK cities.

Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool, London and Manchester will be the first places where consumers and businesses can trial Vodafone’s 5G, although you’ll may need a new handset to do so. Engineers are already laying the groundwork for the 5G trial at more than 40 sites in the seven cities with ongoing discussions with a number of enterprise customers underway, with a view to testing new 5G applications such as augmented and virtual reality in offices, factories and hospitals.

What is 5G?

5G, or Fifth Generation, is the name for the next and fastest mobile network. To give a real live example, if you have a good 4G signal you may be able to download a full length HD video in some two and a half minutes. 5G will cut your download speed to as little as 4 to 40 seconds. This is allied to the promise that 5G won’t drop out as 4G does which is critical for so many use cases.

3G network speeds were measured in kilobits per second, 4G is measured in megabits, but 5G will be measured in gigabits per second so it won’t just a bit faster, 5G will be exponentially quicker.

Everything from driverless cars to drone deliveries relies to an extent on mobile communications and 5G stable reliable connections will bring mass deployment a step further.

Even more directly related to ecommerce, 4G just isn’t simply good enough for Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality applications. Of course there are some of these applications already deployed today, but they are a pale shade of the applications that 5G will enable.

Vodafone’s 5G investment

Vodafone are able to commit to conducting the most comprehensive 5G trial announced to date after winning the largest block of 5G spectrum in the recent auction and having conducted the first UK test of this spectrum across a live network a week later. The upcoming trials will ensure that Vodafone are ready for the commercial launch of full 5G, which is expected to arrive early in 2020 to coincide with a wide choice of compatible phones and devices.

Vodafone may not be first to launch 5G as EE and BT have both indicated a possible launch very late in 2019, but Vodafone’s trump card is their block of the 5G spectrum giving greater capacity for the long term.

Both 5G and Vodafone Gigafast Broadband services will be connected by the company’s nationwide, all optical fibre core network called RedStream, which currently links 1,300 broadband exchanges and nearly 1,600 other locations such as retail parks, new builds and business premises. Vodafone recently tested new ‘photonic’ technology capable of carrying information over the core network at speeds of up to 400 Gigabits per second.

“We want to make 5G and new fibre broadband services available to consumers and business throughout the UK, delivering a Gigabit society for all. We will also be bringing ultra-fast 4G to several hundred sites in hard to reach rural areas this year, building on our position as the network that offers the best voice coverage in the UK.”
– Nick Jeffery, Chief Executive, Vodafone UK


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