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First UK Train Station Deploys 5G Mobile via Vodafone Trial Network

Thursday, April 4th, 2019 (5:02 pm) - Score 2,119
birmingham new street

Mobile operator Vodafone has announced that Birmingham New Street is the first train station in the United Kingdom to be upgraded with their future 5G mobile technology as part of a live trial. Sadly a speedtest of the network struggled to get anywhere close to the often promoted Gigabit broadband speeds.

The trial forms part of Vodafone’s pre-live deployment phase, with Birmingham already being named as one of their 19 initial roll-out locations (full details). At present the technology is somewhat limited by the lack of Smartphones with a 5G capable modem, which means that most of these tests tend to use a Mobile Broadband router and then distribute the signal to devices with WiFi.

On top of that Vodafone and most of the other operators are currently only able to harness a slice of the 3.4GHz radio spectrum band, which somewhat limits the amount of capacity available and that’s bad for data speeds. Once Ofcom has auctioned off more bands then operators will be able to combine those in order to potentially reach Gigabit performance (useless on a mobile but good for fixed wireless broadband to premises).

The combination of these factors may help to explain why a speedtest conducted via a modern Samsung Galaxy phone in the train station was only able to peak at around 325Mbps download and 40Mbps upload (we’ve seen 4G go faster), which is despite the network itself having ample capacity from a 10Gbps fibre optic (backhaul) link.

Anne Sheehan, Director of Vodafone Business, said:

“We are delighted to bring 5G to the West Midlands, giving businesses, residents and visitors fast and reliable connectivity even in exceptionally busy locations such as train stations and airports. 5G will enable new applications and experiences and support the development of connected cities and smart transport solutions. It will help businesses to implement emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, IoT and robotics.

We look forward to continuing to work with Andy Street and his team to deliver the vision of a more prosperous and digitally connected region.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, added:

“I am delighted that Vodafone has brought 5G to Birmingham; and that New Street is the UK’s first 5G-enabled rail station. When I was Managing Director at John Lewis, we saw online shopping transform the retail industry. I believe the West Midlands 5G project will enable our businesses, hospitals, public transport and universities to explore new services and stay ahead of their competition.”

We should point out that this effort is being supported by the publicly funded 5G Urban Connected Communities Project (UCCP) in the West Midlands, which reflects a “large-scale” test bed of next generation Gigabit speed capable 5G mobile technology that is taking place across parts of Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton.

Leave a Comment
1 Response
  1. Avatar Mike

    I suspect the backhaul at the Vodafone data centre is the bottleneck, not the local mast etc.

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