Vodafone aimed to be the world’s first operator to connect 5G smartphones to its live 5G network in the Spanish cities of Madrid and Barcelona, the carrier said in a statement.
As it paves the way to launch 5G technology in a number of European cities during the second half of 2019, Vodafone said it has completed trials over a four-week period in the two cities with three 5G smartphones that will be launched in 2019.
Vodafone reported that it was able to make a 4K video call on its network during the trial, using 5G download speeds.
Vodafone said that both the smartphones and its 5G network were fully compliant with the latest version of the industry standard for Non-Standalone 5G — 3GPP’s Release 15 — which was approved in December 2018.
Vodafone has already rolled out a 5G network in the city center of Barcelona. During Mobile World Congress, which starts on Monday, the carrier said that a car will drive around the city streets, measuring and reporting the 1.5 Gbps speeds that the network is already delivering.
Vodafone has invested in single Radio Access Network (RAN) technology across 98% of its European 4G footprint. The operator said that the investment will allow it to add 5G on top of its existing 4G network in the future. Additionally, Vodafone has been participating in 5G spectrum auctions in its European operating markets. More than two-thirds of Vodafone’s single RAN sites within major European cities already have sufficient backhaul to support 5G network speeds, the telco said.
“Vodafone’s networks are increasingly ready for 5G, which will enable us to deliver significant benefits over time for consumers, businesses and society. Our focus now is on optimizing the customer experience before we launch 5G in some European cities later this year,” said Johan Wibergh, CTO of Vodafone Group.
Vodafone’s other 5G network trials include an investment of 90 million euros ($102 million) in Milan, Italy, to build a 5G network covering over 80% of the city. It has launched 31 5G use cases to date working with 38 industrial and public sector partners. The use cases cover the fields of health, security and surveillance; smart energy and smart cities; mobility and transport; manufacturing and industry 4.0; education; entertainment; and the digital divide.
Also, Vodafone UK is trialling 5G in seven cities and successfully completed the country’s first holographic call in September 2018.
Vodafone Spain, which completed what it claimed to be the world’s first 5G call at Mobile World Congress in 2018, has 5G cell sites across six cities.