Vodafone has announced the first successful connection of 5G-enabled smartphones to its live network during trials conducted in Madrid and Barcelona ahead of MWC 2019. The tests were run over a four-week period using three 5G smartphones that will be launched later this year, with the company able to make an ultra-high-resolution 4K video call on its network.
In a statement Vodafone said 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’. It added that it’s already rolled out a 5G network in Barcelona city centre and that a car will drive around the city’s streets during MWC to measure and report the 1.5Gbps speeds that the network is already delivering.
The group’s Spanish unit completed the world’s first 5G call at last year’s Mobile World Congress and has since deployed 5G cell sites across six cities (Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Bilbao, Malaga and Seville) after acquiring 90 MHz of spectrum in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band. It’s also supporting the development of 5G connected surgery in Spain, working with L’Hospital Clinic in Barcelona to enable a specialist surgeon to guide an operation by another surgeon without being physically present.
Vodafone is also preparing to launch 5G in a number of other European cities during the second half of 2019. It has invested over EUR 90 million in Milan to build the first 5G network in Italy, covering over 80 percent of the city, while Vodafone UK is trialling 5G in seven cities and successfully completed the country’s first holographic call in September 2018. In Germany, the operator is working with broadcaster WDR to test the distribution of TV and Video on Demand content over 5G.