Future Market Insights (FMI) lead market intelligence and consulting firm have observed countries such as Germany, France, and the United Kingdom are leading with research in the European region, on the commercialisation of 5G technology. Telcom companies like Vodafone, Telekom, and Ericsson are testing various frequency spectrums to set up 5G technology efficiently. They have set up customer trials in several geographical areas to form a base for 5G technology. The companies are also researching advances in technology to advance Io and 5G.

Vodafone rolls out test trials

UK Vodafone announced at the beginning of the year that it would launch 5G in cities across the country. After they became the first to set up 5G over a commercial mobile network in Salford, Greater Manchester in October 2018. They have already switched on sites in Bristol, Cardiff and Liverpool using the latest compatible routers. Vodafone has started 5G testing trials at Birmingham New Street train station; New Street is just the first of many rail stations to be connected; plans are set to roll out 5G at other major busy commuter locations this year. Live testing is also taking place in other areas of Birmingham through Vodafone's 4G optical fibre network.

Coverage across the UK

Vodafone has already confirmed that 5G trials will be deployed throughout the year in areas of Birkenhead, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Glasgow, Guildford, London, Manchester, Newbury, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Reading, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Wolverhampton, and Warrington. The first of new 5G trials during 2019 is scheduled in the Scottish Highlands, Cornwall, the Lake District.

UK’s first region-wide 5G test-bed for Vodafone will be the West Midlands Urban Connected Communities 5G Project (UCC), initiated and jointly funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). Vodafone Director of Business, Anne Sheehan stated they look forward to enabling businesses, hospitals, public transport and universities to new services.

Busy commuter area coverage

In February of this year, Vodafone was the first to start 5G trials at Manchester Airport. Users are able to connect through a portable 5G router at Manchester's terminal one, which Vodafone calls ‘Gigacube,' which makes use of Massive MIMO to enable multiple transmit and receive signals. Massive MIMO is bedrock 5G technology that allows more data to be transferred and improves coverage. The base stations use 64 transmit and 64 receive streams, rather than the two elements used by current antennas. Plans are underway to connect airports throughout the UK if test trials succeed.

5G technology is on its way to massive growth and Vodafone intends to stay on top as it continues to increase its coverage across the globe. As of now, it has 400 million connections and users in 26 countries. Right now the barrier for 5G is 5G handsets, which might not be readily available till late 2019 or 2020.