Manchester Vodafone site first to switch on full 5G in the UK

Telecommunications giant Vodafone today, October 25, became the first company in the UK to carry full 5G over a commercial network.

Live mobile data traffic is now being streamed to and from the internet exclusively over 5G from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester, connected to Vodafone’s nationwide converged fibre network.

Until now, companies have tested the technology either within a single location, or using parts of the 4G network to complete the 5G service.

Only last month Vodafone conducted the UK’s first holographic call using 5G spectrum from its Manchester office with Steph Houghton, England and Manchester City women’s football captain.

Providing coverage to MediaCityUK and the surrounding area, the new site in Salford is an important step in connecting businesses and consumers with 5G technology.

It is enabling Vodafone to test the technology end-to-end using wireless routers and forms part of its 5G trial in seven cities this year.

When 5G-compatible handsets and devices become available, people will be able to play games on the go in 4K resolution with little or no time lag.

They will also be able to immerse themselves in augmented reality where virtual objects appear in real-life surroundings, and enjoy extremely fast internet access.

Vodafone UK chief executive, Nick Jeffery, said: “We are leading the roll out of 5G across the UK, starting with Greater Manchester.

“A further six cities – Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool and London – will shortly receive full 5G, too.

“Next year, we will bring 5G to the Scottish Highlands, Cornwall and the Lake District, among other locations.”

He added: “We have worked closely with the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, to help ensure the city is not only an economic powerhouse, but also a digital powerhouse.

“That is why we are making a multi-million pound investment to offer world-class communications to Greater Manchester’s thriving media and tech community, consumers and our own 1,000 or so employees who work there.”

Vodafone’s network engineers are already achieving high-speed internet connectivity and low latency from the Salford site using Active Antenna (Massive MIMO) technology.

This effectively provides multiple-data ‘channels’ from a single antenna, coupled with Vodafone’s 3.4GHz 5G spectrum.

Vodafone secured the largest block of this 5G spectrum at this year’s auction.

The company will open up its innovation centre to winners of Vodafone Techstarter, an award for innovative technology with a social purpose.

Techstarter offers a £300,000 fund through a partnership with the Vodafone Foundation and Social Tech Trust, the UK’s leading supporter of socially-motivated tech ventures.