Vodafone UK expands 5G launch to 19 towns and cities

(Image credit: Vodafone)

Vodafone has expanded its 5G launch plans to cover an additional 12 towns and cities, meaning 19 locations in the UK will soon be able to access next generation networks.

The mobile operator had already confirmed trials in seven cities - Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool, London and Manchester – and has been working to upgrade sites ahead of a commercial launch.

The next tranche of towns includes Birkenhead, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Guildford, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Reading, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Warrington and Wolverhampton, as well as the operator’s hometown of Newbury.

Vodafone UK 5G

In addition to the radio upgrades, Vodafone has already overhauled its core network so the majority of 4G sites are 5G-ready and is testing the performance of compatible smartphones, routers and processors to ensure the launch is as seamless as possible.

Specifically, Vodafone is promising speeds that are ten times faster than 4G and sub-20 millisecond latency for consumers and sub-5 milliseconds for industrial and business use cases.

“Our multi-billion-pound network investment and leading position in setting global standards will ensure our customers have the very latest 5G releases and technology,” said Vodafone UK CTO Scott Petty. “5G will also usher in a new era where everyone and everything is better connected, whether you are running a hotel in Portsmouth or broadcasting live at MediaCity in Salford.”

Separately, Vodafone has also become the first communications service provider to join a UK drone testing consortium. The National Beyond Visual Line of Sight Experimentation Corridor (NBEC) group is testing ways of allowing drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to fly in the same airspace as manned aircraft.

All four UK operators plan to launch 5G in 2019, and it is thought that 5G will account for a quarter of all mobile data traffic in Britain by 2022. A report from Deloitte suggests that 15 million Brits would switch to 5G as soon as they could but believes only 50,000 compatible handsets will be sold in the UK in 2019, rising to 2-3 million in 2020.

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.