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Vodafone UK Start Testing Early Mock 5G Smartphone in Newbury

Thursday, February 7th, 2019 (11:31 am) - Score 1,605
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Mobile operator Vodafone has today announced that they’ve this week joined with Qualcomm and Ericsson to conduct “over the air” tests of their future 5G network with an early Smartphone prototype, which uses the latest Gigabit broadband speed capable Snapdragon™ X50 modem.

Qualcomm has previously boasted that their X50 modem “can replaceFibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) based broadband ISP connections with a 5G fixed wireless network. This claim is partly based on the fact that their own internal testing of the new chip has already reached a peak total throughput of 4.51Gbps (Gigabits per second); albeit with 1-2Gbps being predicted by the company for real-world scenarios.

However today’s announcement doesn’t say how fast Vodafone’s own testing was able to push the device at their Technology Centre in Newbury (Berkshire). Instead we’re told that elsewhere their engineers in Salford (Greater Manchester) were able to download a 1 hour and 45 minute-length movie over 5G in just 24 seconds, which is of little use without knowing the video quality and total file size.

Nevertheless it’s worth remembering that Gigabit speeds will become a lot harder to achieve in a dense mobile environment, with many users sucking on the same capacity, as well as potentially less spectrum being available (until Ofcom releases more), interference and the ever changing environmental variables (i.e. end-users are constantly moving).

Nick Jeffery, Vodafone UK Chief Executive, said:

“We made the UK’s first live 5G 3D holographic call between Manchester and Newbury five months ago. Soon after, we carried the UK’s first 5G call over a live mobile network. Today, we are testing technology that will power 5G smartphones. Another first in the UK.”

Thomas Noren, Ericsson’s Head of 5G Commercialization, said:

“We’re making headway on mobile devices as an integral part of the 5G ecosystem. Ericsson continues to drive the commercial readiness of 5G by future-proofing this ecosystem. Together with Qualcomm, we continue to advance the testing of 5G NR networks with mobile devices and support Vodafone in deploying 5G across the UK.”

All of this forms part of Vodafone’s on-going pre-commercial 5G trial, which is currently taking place in parts of Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool and London via the 3.4GHz spectrum band. Some parts of Cornwall, the Lake District and the Scottish Highlands will also be included.

However, until now most of those trials have focused on fixed wireless connections (i.e. connecting premises rather than directly to roving users). By comparison today’s news is all about expanding that to include the more familiar mobile environment. The first tentative commercial deployments are expected to follow later in 2019.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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7 Responses
  1. Avatar Pete

    They are a bit behind, EE were testing this back in August 2017 -but it’s good to see they are all getting their networks together and that it’s coming.

    • Avatar davidj

      EEs trial at Canary Wharf around beginnning of October 2018 was still reliant in part on 4G.

      Voda first tested full 5G back in October 2018 also which was full (or as close as you could get then) 5G.

      They are far from behind in fact probably ahead and have a bigger spectrum slice than EE did.

    • Avatar dave

      this test is with an actual smartphone. Pretty sure the older tests would just be with a PCB.

    • Avatar davidj

      All earlier demos had some limitations to them from both organisations.

  2. Avatar Pete

    2018 even – sorry typo!

  3. Avatar rancidbanana

    ericsson!!??!!

    Maybe they’ve got something in place to keep their certificates up to date….

    Or Maybe not

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