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Vodafone UK Deploys Ultrafast 5G Mobile to Gatwick Airport

Thursday, September 12th, 2019 (8:58 am) - Score 1,786

Mobile operator Vodafone UK has announced that their new 5G network, which is capable of ultrafast mobile broadband speeds, has just been deployed to cover the South Terminal building at Gatwick Airport. The North Terminal is set to follow by early 2020.

Passengers will also be able to use 5G on Vodafone’s network at no additional cost when they touch down in Germany, Italy and Spain, as the operator is currently still the only UK mobile company to launch 5G roaming. As usual the Gatwick deployment is being fuelled by the installation of “hundreds of kilometres of [new] fibre” (these tend to be 10Gbps links but Vodafone doesn’t confirm).

All of this forms part of the operator’s initial rollout plan, which has already made 5G available to busy parts of Cardiff, Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Glasgow and the Isles of Scilly. A further 12 cities will be added later in 2019 including Birkenhead, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Guildford, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Reading, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Warrington, Wolverhampton and Newbury.

At present the new network can only harness a 50MHz slice of the 3.4GHz radio band but more spectrum is expected to be auction off by Ofcom next year, which should help to improve network coverage, capacity and thus data speeds.

John Barton, Gatwick Airport’s CIO, said:

“We are delighted to announce yet another world-class facility at Gatwick with Vodafone’s new 5G network now available in the South Terminal. Passengers using the network will benefit from super fast speeds when surfing the web and downloading files, or even box sets to provide video entertainment during one of the many long haul flights that depart from the airport.

5G also has the potential to unlock a wide range of new capabilities and to reliably connect everything around us to a network many times faster than those it replaces. Many of the 250 companies based on the Gatwick campus can also benefit from this super fast 5G service, including those that rely heavily on mobile applications for their day to day business.”

Vodafone’s 5G tariffs are generally priced the same as 4G and they recently began offering an “unlimited” data option too (albeit with speed caps on all but the most expensive plan). However it’s worth considering that EE, Three UK and O2 will eventually get around to upgrading their own networks at major transport hubs too, so Vodafone won’t be alone for long.

We should point out that technically this isn’t the first UK airport to see 5G because Vodafone originally tested the technology at Manchester airport earlier this year, although that wasn’t a proper 5G mobile deployment as it was used to fuel a WiFi service. As usual you’ll need a 5G capable device in order to benefit from the new network.

Leave a Comment
11 Responses
  1. Avatar 5G Infinity says:

    This week I got 155Mbps down on EE 5G inside a train at Waterloo train station

    1. Avatar vvvvvvvvv says:

      Isnt that quite poor for 5g?

    2. Avatar CarlT says:

      Vodafone 4G at Eindhoven Airport, so a fairly busy cell I imagine.


      Be interesting to see how 5G performs on the round once there are more devices attached.

    3. Avatar Connor says:

      The fastest I’ve seen so far with 5G is 500mbps on Vodafone, usually only around 200-300 whole walking round though. I kinda expected more

    4. Avatar Chris says:

      I think there’s still a huge amount of headroom in 5G. We’re looking at early deployments without much spectrum and without a high cell density yet.
      Current 4G deployments often have 10x as much capacity as day 1 sites, so we know there is much better to come yet

  2. Avatar dave jones says:

    I wish they would have the 700MHZ auction already.

  3. Avatar Aleksandr Metslov says:

    I will pay may question.
    It’s great to have 5G, but what about root of the problem – poor speeds of the backbone of the infrastructure.
    10Gbps is not critically slow speeds of you consider amount of people using front end.
    5G is not an answer here.
    Moreover, if airport would be willing to improve airport network speeds, I rather go with Wi-Fi.

    1. Avatar Meadmodj says:

      Gatwick has both free wi-fi, phone charging and limited internet/print kiosks on both sides of security in both South and North Terminals. Basic is up to 50Mbps and you can sign up to 100Mbps. This of course does not include some of the long gate gantries and planes but really people should have their phones off/disabled at this point.

      That last minute business presentation will probably be just as good in 4G but their press departments are scratching around for pro 5G messages so they can sell some phones. Expect further press releases by transmitter.

  4. Avatar Dave says:

    The range of 5G is a joke!

    It’d be better if Vodafone continued rolling out 4G and upgrading to the highest possible LTE category that their available LTE bands will support.

    1. Avatar Chris says:

      The highest capacity LTE services rely on 2100 and 2600mhz bands. Current 5G deployments are on 3400mhz bands, but with the addition of massive MIMO antennaes (64×64 vs 4×4 on LTE). The higher order MIMO along with beamforming allows better range and penetration so actually your 3400mhz 5G service is equivalent in range to your 2100mhz service.

      At Gatwick specifically, Vodafone actually has inbuilding 2600mhz coverage, ie small cells built out like Wifi networks. In fact these would be tuned to cover even smaller areas than regular 4G!

      Sure, it’s not suitable for rural coverage yet, but for urban and even sub-urban there’s a lot of potential with 3400mhz. It’s not 26ghz mmWave like what is being deployed in the states.

  5. Avatar Zgr says:

    Ha ha ha…5g technology with the limit at 2mbps by the monthly payment, less than 3g,. seriously…they sold just the name of the new technology. New technology for stupid people. Buy it

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