Vodafone switches on UK’s first full 5G trial

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The UK's first 5G trial to use a full commercial network has gone live in Greater Manchester after network operator Vodafone activated its new site.

Based in Salford, the trial will transmit live mobile data traffic to and from the internet, offering coverage to users in MediaCityUK and the surrounding area.

Until now, 5G trials have been restricted to a single location, or use parts of the existing 4G network to complete the service. Therefore, Vodafone claims that the first full 5G-only offering marks a significant step forward for the technology, enabling the firm to test it end-to-end using wireless routers ahead of its wider 5G trial – to be rolled out in seven cities later this year.

The company is now inviting local organisations to register their interest in experiencing what 5G can offer at the firm's 'Future Ready' innovation centre and digital incubator, which is set to open in spring 2019. 

This centre will be equipped with Vodafone's latest digital technology, including 5G wireless routers, gigabit-capable optical-fibre links and Internet of Things (IoT) services. These are capable of digitally connecting everything from office security systems, vehicles and household appliances to livestock and pets.

Vodafone UK chief executive Nick Jeffery said: "We have worked closely with the mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, to help ensure the city is not only an economic powerhouse, but also a digital powerhouse. That is why we are making a multi-million pound investment to offer world-class communications to Greater Manchester’s thriving media and tech community."

In addition to Greater Manchester, Vodafone will be bringing 5G trials to Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool and London in the near future. However, it will not only be urban areas to benefit from the technology, as the operator also has plans to bring 5G capabilities to the Lake District, Scottish Highlands and Cornwall in 2019.