Vodafone has announced it has completed the first test of new 5G spectrum across an existing live network.

The trial took place between Manchester and the company’s headquarters in Newbury, Berkshire.

According to the company, it is the first time that the 3.4 Gigahertz (GHz) radio frequency allocated for 5G has been used in the UK.

The test relied on a technology known as Massive MIMO or Active Antennae, combined with 3.4 GHz spectrum running over the core 4G network. Describing it as a “key building block for 5G”, Vodafone said the system has multiple antennae to send and receive data more efficiently. This boosts capacity where many people are connecting to the network at the same time.

Vodafone UK chief executive Nick Jeffery said: “5G will improve the quality of our lives and transform how we work. This next generation technology will enable medical services that could save lives, from remote surgery to remote care for the elderly.

“It will enhance industrial applications, from automated systems to robotics, helping manufacturers across the UK boost their productivity. And it will enable families to share their experiences with loved ones wherever they are, thanks to innovations like augmented reality.”

He went on to say that for Vodafone, this test is “just the beginning”. He explained that his organisation is now preparing its network for 5G, while continuing to increase the capacity and extend the reach of its existing 4G network.

The test took place after Vodafone won the largest slice of 5G spectrum in regulator Ofcom’s auction. It cost the company £378.2 million.

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