Vodafone sets 5G trials but is in no rush to roll it out

Will Vodafone's 'slow and steady' approach win the 5G race?
Vodafone sets 5G trials in seven of Britain's 10 big cities

As part of its plan to start limited deployments in dense urban areas, Vodafone announces that it will begin testing next-generation 5G mobile networks in seven of Britain’s largest cities.

With testing due to start in the latter part of 2018, the management of global operator Vodafone Group has signalled it is by no means in any rush to roll out 5G; seeing the potential tenfold increase in mobile broadband speeds it offers as an initial way to wire greater efficiencies out of network choke points.

As the third largest mobile operator, Vodafone UK say it will be laying the groundwork for 5G services as a supplement to already existing 4G networks – these will be installed in 40 locations surrounding Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool, London and Manchester.

Vodafone, in a bid to target highly trafficked urban areas such as sports venues, offices, factories and hospitals, says its latest trials of 5G will commence between October and December 2018.

This may seem risky to some considering rival mobile operator EE, a unit of BT Group, has just released its plans to get the ball rolling by switching on the UK’s first 5G trial network in East London in October.

Adding to the reasoning behind its delay to switch on, Vodafone acknowledges its broad program of 4G network upgrades undertaken across Europe in recent years –combined with its strong position in licensed radio airwaves – ensures that it has capacity to meet traffic demand for years to come.

The company says it is waiting until 5G-ready phones and other devices start to become available in the 2020 timeframe before it considers fuller 5G deployments. Vodafone has forecast that 5G is unlikely to be adopted by 50% of phone users before the middle of the next decade, or around seven years out. But, all things considered, could this be a risky option?

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