Vodafone trials 5G form factor device with Ericsson and Qualcomm

Vodafone’s plans to switch on its 5G network later this year have taken a step forward with trials of a 5G form factor device.

The lab trials, conducted using Ericsson’s radio equipment and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X50 5G modem, took place at Vodafone’s Newbury headquarters.

The operator is trialling 5G in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool, London and Manchester ahead of a full launch in 2019. It is touting 4K video streaming and 3D holographic calling as key new consumer applications enabled by the ultrafast speeds.

Vodafone 5G

5G networks are widely expected to deliver gigabit speeds, greater capacity and, eventually, ultra-low latency. The first 5G smartphones will arrive in the first half of this year and could be detailed at next month’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona.

“We made the UK’s first live 5G 3D holographic call between Manchester and Newbury five months ago,” declared Vodafone UK CEO Nick Jeffrey. “Soon after, we carried the UK’s first 5G call over a live mobile network. Today, we are testing technology that will power 5G smartphones.”

All four major UK mobile operators are advanced in their plans for 5G rollout. EE will roll out 5G at the busiest sites in the busiest cities in its network in 2019, while O2 and Three are trialling the technology.

Over the past few months, Vodafone has widened its site infrastructure sharing partnership with O2 to cover 5G equipment and is also using micro-infrastructure in manhole covers to densify coverage.

For Vodafone’s partners in this latest trial, the exercise gave them valuable insight into how their products will behave in a commercial setting.

“We’re making headway on mobile devices as an integral part of the 5G ecosystem,” declared Thomas Noren, Head of 5G Commercialisation at Ericsson. “Together with Qualcomm, we continue to advance the testing of 5G NR networks with mobile devices and support Vodafone in deploying 5G across the UK.”

“These tests will be instrumental in defining and refining the 5G services consumers will be able to access,” agreed Enrico Salvatori, head of Qualcomm in EMEA.

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.