Vodafone launches 5G trials in seven UK cities

Vodafone has announced it will be holding 5G trials across seven major UK cities as it gears up for a commercial launch in 2020.

Pilots in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool, London and Manchester will go live between October and December, with engineers already laying the groundwork at 40 sites.

The Newbury-based operator says it is also holding discussions with businesses with regards to tests of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) applications.

Vodafone 5G trials

O2 and EE have already announced trials to be held in London later this year, but Vodafone claims its trials will be the “most comprehensive” to date because of its spectrum holdings. 

Indeed, it won the most 3.4GHz airwaves at the recent Ofcom auction conducted a test between its headquarters and Manchester in the days following the purchase.

“We want to make 5G and new fibre broadband services available to consumers and business throughout the UK, delivering a Gigabit society for all,” said Vodafone UK CEO Nick Jeffery. “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.”

5G networks are expected to deliver superior speeds, greater capacity and ultra-low latency, but earlier this month Vodafone said it was most excited about the advances it will bring to its core network.

The company has already combined its fixed and mobile network teams and has built a ‘converged’ core network called ‘RedStream’.

The rollout of 5G forms part of a wider ‘Gigabit UK’ programme that will see Vodafone offer fibre to the premise (FTTP) services to homes and businesses via a partnership with CityFibre. Aberdeen, Coventry, Edinburgh, Huddersfield, Milton Keynes, Peterborough and Stirling are the first locations earmarked to receive gigabit fixed broadband before the end of 2018.

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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.