Vodafone UK today launched its 5G network in seven cities in the U.K., including London. The service will be available July 10 on Vodafone’s unlimited mobile data plans at no additional cost for 5G. Over the summer, 5G roaming will initially be available in the U.K., Germany, Italy and Spain, and more countries will be added to Vodafone’s 5G roaming network as they turn on 5G.
In London, Vodafone is using 5G equipment from Ericsson’s Radio System portfolio, including Ericsson’s Baseband 6630 and Massive MIMO 6488 products to enable 5G on the 3.5 GHz frequency. Vodafone is tapping Ericsson’s dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) technology, which allows Vodafone to combine 5G with LTE in the same spectrum band. Dispensing with the need to separate out sections of spectrum for 5G, Vodafone has been able to quickly extend 5G coverage over a wide area. When in use, the 5G technology delivers speeds 10 times faster than LTE.
In order to use DSS, an operator has to have deployed 5G New Radio technology in accordance with the 3GPP Release 15 standards. Ericsson helped its customers to begin installing 5G NR equipment before the 3GPP Release 15 so that they could quickly move to standardized equipment with a software upgrade.
Bloomberg reports that all the U.K. carriers, including Vodafone, are rolling out hundreds of 5G radio antennas supplied by Huawei while the U.K. government remains undecided about whether or not to restrict the Chinese vendor over security concerns. If the government did ultimately decide to prohibit Huawei equipment, the companies might have to replace their Huawei gear.
Vodafone says it can offer its customers unlimited data thanks to its investment over the last few years in a single all-fiber network called RedStream. The company says it was also an early deployer of Massive MIMO antennas, and it has installed 100 Gbps-capable optical fibre connections to its 5G base stations.
Vodafone 5G customers can choose from two 5G smartphones, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 smartphone and the Samsung S10 5G, as well as a 5G router, the 5G GigaCube.
Vodafone is the second UK carrier to announce its 5G rollout. UK operator Three said in June that it was rolling out 5G mobile and fixed wireless in several cities, including London, Cardiff, Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool, by the end of 2019.
Today’s Vodafone switch-on was marked with a demonstration of haptic technology, using 5G. Haptic, also known as 3D touch, can create an experience of touch by applying vibrations or motion, via technology. At today’s 5G launch event in London, two players from Wasps rugby team, who were more than 100 miles apart, demonstrated the haptic technology. The impact of a rugby tackle made by Will Rowlands at the Ricoh stadium in Coventry was transferred via 5G to teammate Juan de Jongh on stage in London. De Jongh, who was wearing a specially developed haptic Teslasuit, was able to feel the force of the tackle in real-time.