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Vodafone Extend Ultrafast 5G to Six More UK Cities and Towns

Monday, January 13th, 2020 (8:35 am) - Score 5,349

Mobile operator Vodafone UK has announced that their new ultrafast 5G data (mobile broadband) network has now gone live in busy areas around the cities of Belfast, Edinburgh and Leeds, as well as the towns of Cheadle, Rochdale and Stockport around Greater Manchester. There’s also an update on 5G roaming and MORAN technology.

In terms of 5G roaming across other countries, Vodafone is still the only UK operator to offer this in parts of Germany, Italy and Spain at no extra cost. Today the operator has also added five locations inside the Republic of Ireland to that roaming list (i.e. Cork, Dublin, Limerick, Galway and Waterford). Naturally roaming coverage is limited by the roll-out pace of operators in other countries, as well as our own.

On top of all that Vodafone has just become the first UK company to successfully introduce 5G Multi-Operator Radio Access Network (MORAN) technology, which simply enables providers to share the same mobile base station (i.e. helping to reduce energy and the number of masts needed).

Exact details of how the operator will deploy MORAN weren’t given, although no doubt it could have a role to play as part of both their network sharing agreement with O2 (cornerstone) and the new £1bn industry-led Shared Rural Network (SRN) scheme (i.e. improving geographic 4G coverage to 95% of the UK by 2025).

Nick Jeffery, Vodafone UK CEO, said:

“We have started the new year as we mean to go on. We now offer 5G in double the number of places than our nearest rival and we have significantly boosted the capacity of our network. It is ready for the arrival in 2020 of some great new 5G handsets and the next big software release bringing ultra-low latency. Together, these will push 5G to the next level.”

The mention of “ultra-low” latency is interesting as so far 5G mobile networks have only been able to produce a smaller improvement than expected over 4G, although part of the reason for that is because a lot of early deployments have lacked some of the key features and spectrum bands required.

However in theory the 5G network itself (excluding remote servers) should be capable of fast latency down to around just 1ms (millisecond) in fixed wireless environments and 4ms in mobile ones (here).

Vodafone’s Existing Live UK 5G Locations (34)
Cheadle and Gatley
Isle of Scilly

Leave a Comment
23 Responses
  1. Avatar Martin says:

    Be nice if they did some in some of the smaller towns like San Ives in Cambridgeshire or Cambridge or Huntingdon or st Neots it always seems to be the big connotations they get the best deals first and we all pay the same prices

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Naturally commercial operators will always focus on the most economic areas for their bottom line first.

    2. Avatar dave says:

      Not to mention higher load areas.

    3. Avatar Dancos says:

      St Neots has a large Virgin Media presence, right? That place is hardly starved for bandwidth. There are plenty of places that can’t access more than 10Mb but that’s OK because that’s the minimum requirement but in the real world 10Mb is woefully insufficient for today’s world.

    4. Avatar David says:

      I know what you mean. Home base has towns either side of me – some less than 2 miles and both have 5G but we don’t. I dream sometimes of a bridge between them which we would benefit from!

  2. Avatar Jonathan Heath says:

    Surprised that Cambridge is not in the list especially due to the technology companies that are resident there already.

  3. Avatar Adam Jarvis says:

    None of the operators are been honest regards 5G, with the regulator Ofcom turning a blind eye.

    This article need far more technical detail about what’s been implemented here by Vodafone and at what frequencies, the type of base stations, number of concurrent connections possible, the maximum data throughput for each cell and the backhaul applied to each mast/cell, how handover is achieved.

    Ofcom, as usual dragging their feet, it’s about time there was a defined build specfication in terms of implementation of new 5G cells to allow them to be called ‘5G’, because a mast that is upgraded to 5G in terms of radio only, with no real infrastructure upgrade in terms (fibre/microwave) backhaul, is 5G in name only, it’s only decribing the signal between the device and the mast.

    If operators want 5G to be sucessful, there needs to be more honesty regarding possible data throughput + number of concurrent users ‘past the mast’-upstream, 5G as a term covers a whole host of scenarios and here its definition is utterly superficial, vague and wishy washy at best.

    As an industry, it’s starting on the wrong foot, if it wants 5G to be sucessful, the technology must be more than superfacial marketing, there must be noticeable/substantial improvements to the achieveable data speeds (both down/up) to call it 5G as opposed 2G,3G,4G and why a mast’s backhaul needs to be built to a defined specfication by Ofcom, to call it 5G.

    The last thing 5G needs is marketing departments taking over, users have had enough of ‘up to’ marketing cop outs, where the real world service received doesn’t match the marketing and is all but useless.

  4. Avatar Iain says:

    I’ve been looking forward to this.

    They haven’t gotten round to updating their coverage map yet 😉 AFAICT. So I’ll need to wait a little big longer to find out whether it’s worth upgrading my phone.

    Fingers crossed.

    1. Avatar David says:


      I got a 5G phone when one came out – because I wanted to wake up someday and see 5G on the dial (most operators do it include in the price already of 4G sims like Three and Voda/Voxi) and it was nice to see it finally happen. I was not at home at the time but in a nearby town. I gave up and S10 512GB for a A90 5G 128GB and it was worth it – When they finally sort upload out then it will be so much more worth it.

    2. Avatar Iain says:


      Shame you’ve not found the speeds on Voda/Voxi as good as on EE. Faster speeds would be great, but I’m kinda stuck with Voda or O2 (or MVNOs on those networks).

      Obviously reception quality varies. But the difficulty is, in my experience, the signals from Voda and O2 are more reliable than EE, in terms of receiving the signal through the thick stone walls that Edinburgh tenements are build with. Presumably due to whereever the masts are or the frequencies.

  5. Avatar David says:

    So I popped in a Voxi sim for a month to give Voda 5G a try – I am glad it’s a no contract monthly thing. I couldn’t stop laughing – they make Three 4G look good and that’s rubbish. I travel the UK a lot so I have used several cities. I am on EE and I hit 600mbps + down a lot of the time in a few of the cities mentioned. I have a Samsung A90 5G for comparison. I wanted 5G but didn’t want to spend £1000+ on a phone I have to have 99% of the features turned off in order to get 12 hours or more battery life. Luckily the A90 has none of those features and a bigger battery so it was a win win for me for now.

    But honestly. I’ve tried Three in London and Voda and EE – so far EE is the best even if it is £42 a month for existing customer. still worth the £8 hike over unlimited 4G

    1. Avatar Iain says:

      BTW, EE pricing is weird. £44/month for a new personal customer, for SIM only unlimited 5G.

      But they have a much better unlimited 5G SIM only tariff, for small businesses. It costs much less, at £27/month (ex VAT) aka £32.40 (incl. VAT).

    2. Avatar Davidd says:

      Thanks for that – I agree it’s odd. I am okay for now. I am paying £8 more than I was – when my 12 months are up I will switch to this one as I am a sole trader. I was 5 months into my unlimited sim(roughly) and they changed to 5G and didn’t extend my contract – so that’s worth the extra. Be interesting to see if this business sim caps at 1TB – when I upgraded my sim the woman said she’d only seen 1 person hit the cap and she was abroad.

      But I think the business sim does not cover EU usage – No idea

    3. Avatar Lee says:

      I agree EE pricing is very confusing.
      They offer unlimited three in one 4g sim (minutes, text, data) for £34 yet if you want a broadband only sim on their mobile broadband service, they come with strict data limits and are priced higher than the unlimited 3 in 1 sims.
      There is no unlimited on their mobile broadband service yet there is nothing stopping someone from buying their 3 in 1 sim sticking it in a router and using it as unlimited broadband.
      Very strange.

    4. Avatar Iain says:

      @Lee, indeed. They’re not the only ones, but pricing ‘home broadband’ more expensively is absurd. Feels like a holdover, from before net neutrality allowed us to tether and use SIMs in whichever device.

    5. Avatar David says:

      This Gents is why I don’t ever buy a phone on a contract I always buy outright – ain’t no operator going to hold me to 18 or 24 months by the nads whilst they degrade my service. I jump ship as soon as that happens.

    6. Avatar David says:

      If you though the price was nuts – get this..

      I spoke to someone at EE yesterday – and I asked them to be honest about this 1000GB limit – you want to know what i was told? I thought so!

      IF you hit the 1000GB limit they will contact you to request you move onto the business unlimited tariff – but that CAN be the business unlimited tariff and that has a higher limit! ( although would not say what it was) So I might as well try to smash the limit in order to get a price drop and higher limit.

      EE – 1000% off the F’ing chain!

  6. Avatar dave says:

    Could not give a toss about 5G…

    Still waiting for good LTE-A (LTE+) coverage. Most places still only have single carrier LTE and use only 10Mhz bandwidth on 900MHz with a per-cell capacity of only 75Mbps. No wonder Vodafone LTE speeds are less than 10Mbps and often less than 2Mbps.

    1. Avatar David says:

      Worst still they sell them at these speeds probably aware which is why they do it so stop complaints – unless you mean people don’t realise thats what they are agreeing too?

    2. Avatar dave says:

      Makes sense now why they sell the rate-limited packages.

      Really annoying is seeing how well it can perform where they have deployed LTE+. Then I see speeds of 70 to 165Mbps!!!

    3. Avatar Leex says:

      I find 3 and ee are the worst for this, I was really surprised how good Vodafone was

      and like O2 they support active connection mast switch from 3g to 4g, on ee and 3 you have to stop using data for about 5-10 seconds (it affects ee less because how much 4g coverage and bandwidth they have overall) , but 3 they have there’s setup in a wacky way where is fast 4g then 3g and slow 4g800

      Obviously this is city dependent but overall its 02+Vodafone (sharing agreement, so you get same coverage if your on o2 or Vodafone but Vodafone be far faster) or 3 and ee

      a lot of masts are shared around here with old t-mobile masts with 3 and won’t pay to upgrade them to lte+, I think ee are waiting for contracts to expire so they can stiff 3 once they have there own masts that they own them self’s

    4. Avatar Santi says:

      I was with Three for years until their network became unusable in May. It was impossible to stream music, FaceTime and sometimes even WhatsApp plain text and let’s not talk about how weak their signal became pretty much all over London. I then changed over to Vodafone thinking I would get slightly stronger signal and 20mb down (which was the best I ever got with Three) and I get 300mb down and 20 to 40 up all over the city.

      Things might be different outside of the M25, but I find their network to be stellar.

  7. Avatar Jamie Simms says:

    I am hoping that Vodafone can use MORAN in Leicester and get 5G rolled out here as speeds have really dropped off over the last year and in some areas have become unusable.

    They did make a temporary improvement when they added L2600 on some city centre masts but cannot still understand why they enabled L2100 on a number of masts but with only 10mhz where as other areas have 15mhz

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