Telecoms giant Vodafone has confirmed plans to bring 5G connectivity to 1,000 sites across the UK by 2020. The announcement was made at the company’s headquarters in Newbury, England, where an audience was shown the UK’s first live holographic call using 5G technology (see video).
In June, Vodafone said that seven cities across the UK would be hosting 5G trials from October. The company has now moved to reassure customers in rural locations that they won’t be left behind by the next generation of mobile communications, with 1,000 5G sites planned over the next two years.
Cornwall and the Lake District – two areas renowned for poor network infrastructure – are among those receiving 5G in 2019, said Vodafone.
High-fiving a hologram with 5G
The advent of 5G connectivity will, according to Vodafone, enable a diverse number of applications, and not just speed up data downloads for mobile customers. Remote robotic surgery and 4K gaming on the move were two examples cited by the company.
But the application set to attract the most attention was demonstrated by Vodafone yesterday (20 September). Using the company’s 5G network, England Women’s football captain Steph Houghton held a holographic phone call with Iris, an 11-year-old at the Vodafone headquarters in Newbury.
During the call the pair were able to high-five, before Houghton gave a visual demonstration of her football skills from hundreds of miles away.
Internet of Business says
Vodafone UK CEO Nick Jeffery announced the news in the wider context of the company’s push to play a leading role in the UK’s digital future.
Its support will be important, because despite the government’s positive announcements about the nation’s 5G strategy, the UK is lagging a long way behind its competitors in Europe in another vital technology, full-fibre broadband connectivity.
“Vodafone has a history of firsts in UK telecoms,” he said. “We made the nation’s first mobile phone call, we sent the first text, and now we’ve conducted the UK’s first holographic call using 5G. We also lead the industry in Internet of Things technology, with the world’s largest dedicated global IoT network.
He continued: “The initiatives we’ve launched today are designed to ensure that everyone can benefit from the digital technologies transforming how we live and work. From our customers and employees, to university students, digital entrepreneurs and businesses, we want to help people across the UK get ready for a digital future.”
However, Nick Read, chief executive designate of Vodafone, warned last week that it was important not to get “too carried away” about the potential of 5G, which he described as an incremental improvement on 4G. However, it could be a boon in areas that have poor fixed-line connectivity.