Vodafone expands 5G test bed in Ireland; launches VoLTE services

Vodafone building (Vodafone)
Vodafone Ireland opened the country’s first 5G network test bed late last year, after a series of trials conducted with Ericsson. (Vodafone)

Vodafone continues its push to 5G with the announcement that its Ireland subsidiary will expand a live 5G test bed to more businesses in Dublin. Vodafone Ireland opened the country’s first 5G network test bed late last year, after a series of trials conducted with Ericsson.

The test bed enables businesses to trial 5G products prior to launch in the marketplace. The expansion is the result of increased demand among local businesses for access to 5G technologies. Vodafone Ireland also opened a 5G startup accelerator with NovaUCD for startups at University College Dublin.

In February 2018, Vodafone Ireland and Ericsson achieved 15 Gbps speeds with latency less than 5 milliseconds using 5G beam-forming tech. The operator also conducted 5G trials with Ericsson for 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) across four rural locations in Ireland. Vodafone Ireland will expand those trials to more regions in 2019.

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Vodafone Ireland expects to begin offering 5G services by the end of the 2019. It will begin selling the first 5G handsets this year.

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The operator is also launching 4G VoLTE “4G Calling” and Wi-Fi calling services to customers across Ireland. VoLTE promises faster call setups and higher-definition audio, while Wi-Fi calling will give customers expanded service to make calls by eliminating mobile network coverage holes in areas such as indoor offices. Vodafone Ireland says the service can hand off Wi-Fi calls to the 4G network seamlessly as the customer moves out of Wi-Fi range.

Vodafone Ireland’s parent Vodafone has taken an aggressive launch schedule for 5G in Europe. Earlier this month, it announced it would launch 5G in 12 cities across the United Kingdom this year, including Manchester, Bristol and Liverpool. 5G sites in Cardiff, Bristol and Liverpool have been switched on, and the operator is currently installing 5G equipment in Birmingham, Glasgow and London. Vodafone aims to launch 5G services in the U.K. by 2020.

It recently announced a €90 million ($102 million) investment to build out a 5G network covering 80% of Milan, Italy, while Vodafone Spain has said it expects to close out first-quarter 2019 with 85-100 5G base stations installed in cities across the country.

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The company is now mulling over what to do with its 5G modem business.

The carrier’s total revenues increased by 6% year-over-year to $11.1 billion, and it reported net income for the quarter of $908 million, up 35% year-over-year.

The company said it will choose a Western vendor for core products.