Vodafone stated that it would have 1,000 5G-enabled network sites in Britain by 2020, delivering staggeringly fast speeds and almost instantaneous response times that it demonstrated by making Britain’s first holographic mobile call on Thursday.
The mobile phone company, which is set to start the trials of 5G tech in seven British cities in the coming weeks, stated Cornwall in southwest England and the Lake District national park in the northwest would receive 5G during 2019. The two places have been known to be poorly served by existing coverage.
The coming of fifth generation mobile telecoms is essential to meeting the growth in demand for ever-higher speeds, capacity, and reliability, and operators hope it will open up a host of new business cases such as connected cars, cities, and factories.
All four of Britain’s networks are kicking off trials of 5G services, even though consumers will not be able to make calls until 5G-ready devices begin arriving in the coming year.
Vodafone UK’s chief tech officer Scott Petty stated that 5G technology would ultimately allow for speeds of1 gigabit per second. This would pave the way for myriad opportunities for ultra-high definition content and immersive services.
Further, the technology has near instant response times, getting rid of the lag that for instance causes motion sickness in users of virtual reality headsets.
“Latency opens up a whole host of capabilities in gaming, in virtual reality and augment reality applications but also for businesses,” said Petty.
Vodafone demonstrated the technology in a holographic call between England Women’s soccer captain Steph Houghton in Manchester and 11-year old fan Iris in the company’s UK headquarters in Newbury, near London.
Iris was able to “high five” a holographic Houghton and witness a demonstration of her football skills up close, even if Houghton was a hundred miles away.
Petty said that scale shipments of brand-name 5G-ready smart devices would probably arrive at the back-end of the year 2019. “Real scale availability across a broad range of manufacturers of handsets (will come) in 2020,” he said.
He also added that holographic capabilities would be a natural evolution of video conferencing, though he wouldn’t predict how quickly the technology would be common.
Vodafone’s incoming CEO Nick Read said at a conference held last week that Vodafone could sell some network assets such as towers, but its UK boss Nick Jeffery stated that wouldn’t happen in Britain.
“We already have a tower company in the UK – CTIL – which we co-own with Telefonica so in a sense you can take the UK out of the discussion,” Jeffery said.