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Aiming to keep up with rivals in an increasingly competitive UK next-gen mobile network arena, Vodafone has announced a 5G tech first – it is to offer free 5G roaming in the Republic of Ireland and has extended its domestic network to major metropolitan areas in the North of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The Vodafone 5G network has gone live in Belfast, Edinburgh and Leeds, and expanded in Greater Manchester with 5G sites now in Cheadle, Rochdale and Stockport. This means Vodafone 5G services are available in more than 100 places in the UK and other European countries, said to be double the number of locations offered by Vodafone’s nearest competitor.
Explaining the rationale for the latest roll-outs, Vodafone said the Greater Manchester expansion underlined the company’s commitment to providing a key regional powerhouse with the latest digital connectivity based on a converged full-fibre and mobile infrastructure.
MediaCity in Salford was the location of Vodafone’s first digital testbed, and is now being used by more than 100 application developers and startups. The company also revealed that Belfast, Edinburgh and Leeds all saw mobile data usage grow by more than 90% over the past two years and that the arrival of 5G would meet future demand.
In addition to the UK market, Vodafone offers 5G roaming in Germany, Italy and Spain, and the operator has added five locations in the Republic of Ireland to this roster. Vodafone UK customers travelling to the Republic of Ireland will be able to connect to 5G services in Cork, Dublin, Limerick, Galway and Waterford. 5G services in Ireland will come at no extra cost to those on UK price plans.
As it was making the service announcements, Vodafone revealed that it had become the first UK company to successfully introduce 5G multi-operator radio access network (Moran) technology. This enables providers to share the same mobile base station, helping to reduce energy usage and the number of masts needed.
Commenting on the moves, Vodafone UK’s chief executive officer, Nick Jeffery, said: “We have started the new year as we mean to go on. We now offer 5G in double the number of places than our nearest rival and we have significantly boosted the capacity of our network. It is ready for the arrival in 2020 of some great new 5G handsets and the next big software release bringing ultra-low latency. Together, these will push 5G to the next level.”
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