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Vodafone becomes 'first' to connect 5G smartphones to live network

Tyrone Stewart

Vodafone storeVodafone has become the ‘world’s first’ operator to connect 5G smartphones to a live 5G network having successfully completed trials in Madrid and Barcelona ahead of MWC19 Barcelona (formerly Mobile World Congress).

Over a four-week period, Vodafone ran trials using three 5G smartphones that are due to be launched this year. During the tests, Vodafone was able to make a ‘seamless’ 4K video call on its network, taking advantage of download speeds up to 10 times faster than 4G.

The MWC event, which begins on 25 February, will see Vodafone driving a car around Barcelona to measure and report on the speeds that its 5G network in Barcelona city centre is delivering.

Vodafone has been trialling 5G technology in major markets across Europe. In the UK, trials are ongoing in seven cities – most recently, bringing 5G to Manchester Airport. And it completed the ‘first’ holographic call using 5G when England and Manchester City Women’s captain Steph Houghton appeared in a hologram to give footballing tips to a young fan.

Elsewhere, it has invested €90m in Milan to build Italy’s first 5G network; has won a Paul Pietsch Award for its work to make the 5G standard fit for connected and autonomous driving and has begun work to with broadcaster WDR to test TV and video distribution over 5G in Germany; and, in Spain, it has 5G cell sites across six cities, while it also completed the ‘world’s first’ 5G call at MWC in 2018 and is supporting the development of 5G connected surgery.

“Vodafone’s networks are increasingly ready for 5G, which will enable us to deliver significant benefits over time for consumers, businesses and society,” said Johan Wibergh, Vodafone Group CTO. “Our focus now is on optimising the customer experience before we launch 5G in some European cities later this year.”