Vodafone has become the first mobile network provider to test 5G spectrum in the UK, just a week after the company picked up the biggest portion of the radio frequency in an Ofcom auction.
The 5G spectrum test was carried out across an existing live network between Manchester and Vodafone’s headquarters in Newbury. It relied on technology known as ‘Active Antennae’ or ‘Massive MIMO’ combined with 3.4 GHz spectrum running over the core 4G network.
“5G will improve the quality of our lives and transform how we work,” said Nick Jeffrey, Vodafone UK chief executive. “This next generation technology will enable medical services that could save lives, from remote surgery to remote care for the elderly. It will enhance industrial applications, from automated systems to robotics, helping manufacturers across the UK boost their productivity. And it will enable families to share their experiences with loved ones wherever they are, thanks to innovations like augmented reality.
“Today’s test is just the beginning. We are now preparing our network for 5G while continuing to increase the capacity and extend the reach of our existing 4G network.”
Last week, Vodafone paid £378m to the Treasury for 50 MHz of 3.4 GHz radio frequency allocated for 5G. The auction for both 4G and 5G airwaves saw mobile network providers spend almost £1.4bn between them.
Elsewhere, Telefonica paid £524m for 40 MHz of the 4G 2.33 GHz spectrum and 40 MHz of 3.4 GHz spectrum, EE picked up 40 MHz of 3.4 GHz spectrum for £303m, and Hutchison purchased 20 MHz of 3.4 GHz spectrum for £151m.