First commercial 5G smartphone trials in Madrid and Barcelona ahead of Mobile World Congress.
Vodafone’s mobile network in Europe is ready to be upgraded to 5G as the operator prepares for 2019 launch in major European cities.
5G network delivering 1.5 Gigabits per second (Gbps) download speeds in Barcelona will be showcased during Mobile World Congress.
Mobile World Congress, 20 February 2019 – Vodafone has become the world’s first operator to connect 5G smartphones to its live 5G network. Vodafone is preparing to launch 5G in a number of European cities during the second half of 2019.
Vodafone has successfully completed trials over a four-week period with three 5G smartphones that will be launched in 2019.
Vodafone was able to make a seamless 4K video call on its network during the trial, utilising 5G download speeds that will be up to 10 times faster than 4G is today.
Both the smartphones and Vodafone’s 5G network were fully compliant with the latest version of the industry standard for Non-Standalone 5G – 3GPP’s ‘Release 15’, which was only approved in December 2018.
Vodafone has already rolled out a 5G network in the city centre of Barcelona. During Mobile World Congress, which starts on 25 February, a car will drive around the city streets measuring and reporting the 1.5Gbps speeds that the network is already delivering.
Vodafone is ready to launch 5G in a number of European cities during the second half of 2019.
Vodafone has invested in single Radio Access Network technology across 98% of its European 4G footprint. That will make it much simpler for Vodafone to add 5G on top of its existing 4G network in future. Additionally, Vodafone has been participating in 5G spectrum auctions in its European operating markets. More than two-thirds of Vodafone’s single RAN sites within major European cities already have sufficient backhaul to support 5G network speeds.
Vodafone has also been trialling 5G technology in its major European markets:
Vodafone has invested €90 million in Milan to build the first 5G network in Italy, covering over 80% of the city. It has launched 31 5G use cases to date working with 38 industrial and public sector partners. The use cases cover the fields of health and wellbeing; security and surveillance; smart energy and smart cities; mobility and transport; manufacturing and industry 4.0; education; entertainment; and the digital divide. The use cases include a 5G Connected Ambulance developed with San Raffaele hospital; Europe’s first live 5G news broadcast with Sky; and a self-driving robotic vehicle delivering books at the Polytechnic University of Milan campus. Vodafone has also allocated €10 million over four years for the ‘Action for 5G’ competition for start-ups, SMEs and social businesses.
Vodafone UK is trialling 5G in seven cities and successfully completed the country’s first holographic call in September 2018 when England and Manchester City Women’s Captain, Steph Houghton MBE who broadcast from Manchester to Vodafone’s headquarters in Newbury, Berkshire in order to give footballing tips to 11-year-old Manchester City and Lionesses fan, Iris.
Vodafone Germany won the international Paul Pietsch Award in 2019 for its work in making the 5G standard fit for connected and autonomous driving in future utilising its 5G Mobility Lab and auto test track near Dusseldorf. It is now working with German broadcaster WDR to test the distribution of TV and Video on Demand content over 5G.
Vodafone Spain, which completed the world’s first 5G call at Mobile World Congress in 2018, has 5G cell sites across six cities. The company is also supporting the development of 5G connected surgery in Spain working with L’Hospital Clinic in Barcelona to enable a specialist surgeon to guide an operation by another surgeon without being physically present.
Johan Wibergh, Chief Technology Officer of Vodafone Group, said:
“Vodafone’s networks are increasingly ready for 5G, which will enable us to deliver significant benefits over time for consumers, businesses and society. Our focus now is on optimising the customer experience before we launch 5G in some European cities later this year.”
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About Vodafone Group
Vodafone Group is one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies and provides a range of services including voice, messaging, data and fixed communications. Vodafone Group has mobile operations in 25 countries, partners with mobile networks in 44 more, and fixed broadband operations in 19 markets. As of 31 December 2018, Vodafone Group had approximately 700 million mobile customers and 21 million fixed broadband customers, including all of the customers in Vodafone’s joint ventures and associates. For more information, please visit: www.vodafone.com.