Multi-Gigabit speed Mobile Broadband has taken another step forward today after Vodafone announced a list of 19 UK cities and towns that will be the first to benefit from their commercial roll-out of 5G mobile technology in 2019, which is being fuelled by a 10Gbps capable fibre optic (backhaul) network.
At present the operator has already announced several of today’s locations as part of their on-going pre-commercial 5G trials (here), which began last year and are currently taking place in parts of Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool and London via the 3.4GHz spectrum band. Some parts of Cornwall, the Lake District and the Scottish Highlands are also included in that.
So far the trials have been focused on testing 5G based Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) style connections to connect premises or WiFi distribution points. Some of these have been seen to deliver speeds around 1Gbps, as well as low latency (1-5ms is the network side desire – excluding latency added by home networks and internet servers). But these will soon expand to include mobile (Smartphone) tests, once the hardware becomes available.
The good news is that Vodafone has now gone one step further and revealed a full list of the 19 UK cities and towns where they will start deploying 5G from later in 2019 (see below).
Scott Petty, Vodafone UK CTO, said:
“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. 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.”
We should point out that the areas listed below won’t immediately achieved 100% coverage when the new service goes live. Instead most of the operator’s tests are currently limited to very specific locations in each city/town and these will only start to be expanded more widely once the real roll-out starts later this year.
Most operators will only achieve very limited 5G coverage this year and that’s partly because they are awaiting the forthcoming auction and release of additional 5G spectrum bands by Ofcom (here), which will take place later this year and into early 2020 (e.g. 700MHz and spectrum in 3.8-4.2GHz etc.).
Vodafone’s Initial UK 5G Rollout Plan
Salford (Greater Manchester)
Pre-Live Deployment Phase (Trials)
New Cities and Towns
In addition to the 12 new cities announced today, Vodafone said their investment in the latest Active Antenna (Massive MIMO) technology means many existing 4G sites are now also considered “5G ready“. This technology effectively provides multiple-data ‘channels’ from a single antenna, coupled with their 3.4GHz 5G spectrum. Vodafone secured the largest block of this 5G spectrum at last year’s auction.