Vodafone UK has announced it will be holding 5G trials in seven cities starting between October and December this year.

They will form part of the company’s investment in building a world-class network infrastructure to support Gigabit UK, which Vodafone explained is “a nation where people will enjoy ultra-fast connection speeds of one gigabit per second on the move, at home or at work”.

Vodafone said its engineers are currently laying the groundwork for 5G at more than 40 sites in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool, London and Manchester. In addition, discussions with a number of enterprise customers are also underway, with a view to testing new 5G applications, such as augmented and virtual reality in offices, factories and hospitals.

The company said it is able to commit to conducting the most comprehensive 5G trial to date after it won the largest block of 5G spectrum in the recent auction by Ofcom, as well as having conducted the first UK test of this spectrum across a live network a week later.

It added that the upcoming trials will ensure the company is ready for the commercial launch of full 5G, which is expected to arrive early in 2020 to coincide with a wide choice of compatible phones and devices.

Vodafone UK chief executive Nick Jeffery said: “We want to make 5G and new fibre broadband services available to consumers and business throughout the UK, delivering a Gigabit society for all.

“We will also be bringing ultra-fast 4G to several hundred sites in hard to reach rural areas this year, building on our position as the network that offers the best voice coverage in the UK.”

The announcement comes as Vodafone has joined O2 and Three in calling for more to be done in order to open up dark fibre networks to provide capacity for future 5G networks.

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