Vodafone to trial 5G in seven cities as part of ‘Gigabit UK’ programme

18 July 2018


James Hope, Vodafone UK’s head of networks for the North, with a new 5G base station in Manchester which is one of seven cities set to become a test area.

Vodafone has unveiled seven UK cities that will become 5G test areas. Customers in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool, London and Manchester will be able to try out the technology following rollouts that are scheduled to begin between October and December this year.

In June, the mobile operator said that its engineers were already laying the groundwork for 5G at more than 40 sites in the cities. It said that discussions with a number of enterprise customers were also under way, with a view to testing new 5G applications such as AR and VR in offices, factories and hospitals.

Vodafone says the upcoming trials will ensure that it is ready for the commercial launch of full 5G, which is expected to arrive early in 2020. The company added that it is able to commit to conducting the “most comprehensive” 5G trial announced to date after winning the largest block of spectrum in the auction that took place earlier this year (see News, April issue).

Vodafone said its Gigabit UK programme also involves offering customers fixed broadband using gigabit-capable FTTP connections. Customers in Aberdeen,Coventry, Edinburgh, Huddersfield, Milton Keynes, Peterborough and Stirling will start receiving the firm’s Gigafast Broadband service, towards the end of 2018.

“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 chief executive 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.”

Both 5G and the broadband services will be connected using RedStream, Vodafone’s nationwide, all optical fibre core network. It’s claimed this currently links 1,300 broadband exchanges and nearly 1,600 other locations such as retail parks, new builds and business premises. 

Vodafone said that it has also recently tested new photonic technology capable of carrying information over the core network at speeds of up to 400Gbps.