In 2017, together with Ericsson, Vodafone UK partnered with Kings College London to test a standalone pre-standard 5G network.
The network provider became the first to test 5G in the UK, using a prototype device in a 3.5 GHz spectrum field located in Central London.
The tests were rolled-out to experiment with different bands of mobile spectrums in order to increase capacity and data speeds, including Massive MIMO (multiple-input-multiple-output) technology, developed by Huawei to form separate narrow beam coverage for different users.
"Right now, we're also modernising our network by making smarter use of our existing mobile technology to keep ahead of consumption demands and provide the mobile coverage our customers deserve," Kye Prigg, head of networks at Vodafone UK said in a statement.
Vodafone has also partnered with CityFibre to provide gigabit fibre broadband to almost five million UK homes and businesses by 2025. This is expected to cover 50 percent of the UK government’s aim to deliver full fibre to 10 million homes and businesses.
The fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) network is built and operated by CityFibre, while Vodafone holds the rights to a period of exclusivity.
Vodafone has also partnered with Nokia, Qualcomm and Intel to continue its 5G research and prepare for the transition with continuous tests of technologies and services.
In partnership with CityFibre, Vodafone confirmed that Cambridge, Leeds and Southend-on-Sea will be next to receive Gigabit-capable fibre optic broadband.
The planning and construction have already begun in Milton Keynes, Peterborough and Aberdeen. Since the installation of fibre infrastructure customers are now placing orders for Vodafone's Gigafast broadband. Construction is expected to begin in other areas including Edinburgh and Coventry by the end of 2018.
Vodafone and CityFibre are also planning to provide full fibre broadband, which is currently only available to five percent of UK homes, to 1 million UK homes and businesses by 2021.
In February 2019, Vodafone unveiled Manchester airport as the UK’s first 5G connected airport. The launch is the first of Vodafone's multiple 5G trials in various travel locations around the UK.
The experience gave passengers at Manchester's Terminal One the opportunity to visit Vodafone’s 5G 'blast pod' with a free entertainment pass to stream NOW TV.
“We all love to catch up on our favourite TV shows, play games or finish off some work when travelling. 5G, with its fast speeds and quick response times, will make that quick and easy, even in busy locations. We are proud to be the first provider to bring 5G to an airport and will be adding more major travel hotspots to our 5G network throughout the year,” Nick Jeffery, CEO at Vodafone UK said in a statement.
Vodafone has also partnered with Qualcomm to run tests of 5G smartphones using the Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 5G modem. This is to ensure that customers receive the best experience from their phone and Vodafone network when 5G rolls out.