Vodafone has proudly proclaimed Birmingham New Street as the UK’s first railway station to have 5G connectivity.
In tests run by Vodafone 4G smartphones were connected to a 5G router, which received 5G connectivity from a nearby mobile mast. This, Vodafone said enabled users ‘to get the 5G speeds.’ This, of course relies heavily on wifi performance, which in turn relies on a multitude of factors.
Vodafone said they had managed to reach download speeds of around 268Mbps, which is significantly lower than the 10-20GB of bandwidth potential when using end-to-end 5G. Among those who trialled Vodafone’s 5G project was Birmingham’s Lord Mayor.
When I was managing director at John Lewis, we saw online shopping transform the retail industry. I believe the West Midlands 5G project will enable our businesses, hospitals, public transport and universities to explore new services and stay ahead of the competition.- Andy Street: Lord Major Birmingham
Vodafone’s trial included equipment supplied by Huawei, despite the growing number of countries banning their involvement in their cyber infrastructure. Currently, America, Australia and New Zealand have banned Huawei equipment. So far, Europe has yet to make a decision and the UK continues to dally over whether Huawei presents a security threat.
Vodafone said it plans to offer 5G connectivity across 19 towns and cities by the end of 2019. While the current lack of smartphone compatibility with 5G remains an issue, it is not as crucial as previous generations.
Unlike say, the switch from 3G to 4G which caused a major shift in consumer technologies, 5G is much more about the industrial uses of wireless networking and the delivery of high-bandwidth internet.
5G will enable new applications and experiences and support the development of connected cities and smart transport solutions. It will help businesses to implement emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence.- Anne Sheehan: Director, Vodafone Business
The West Midlands Urban Connected Communities 5G Project (UCC) has been set-up and jointly funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and will roll-out the UK’s first region-wide 5G test bed later this year.
Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton became 5G hubs after winning a national competition. Up to £50 million has been allocated to the project which will initially focus on the health, construction and car industries.
Image: Paul Hudson