Vodafone Group completed a trial to connect 5G smartphones to its next-generation network for the first time, as it prepares to launch the technology across Europe in the second half of the year.

In a statement, the company said it completed commercial 5G smartphone trials in Madrid and Barcelona, ahead of MWC19 Barcelona next week. Trials were completed over a four-week period with three 5G smartphones that are due to be launched in 2019.

During the tests, Vodafone conducted a 4K video call “utilising 5G download speeds that will be up to ten-times faster than 4G is today”.

The devices and network were fully compliant with the latest 3GPP non-standalone (NSA) 5G specifications.

Europe launch
Vodafone confirmed it was now ready to launch 5G in a number of European cities during the second half of the year, pointing to trials completed in Italy, the UK, Germany and Spain.

It explained it invested in single Radio Access Network (RAN) technology across 98 per cent of its European 4G footprint, making it simpler to add 5G on to existing 4G in the future.

The company has also participated in 5G auctions in its European operating markets.

CTO Johan Wibergh added Vodafone’s networks are “increasingly ready for 5G”.

“Our focus now is on optimising the customer experience before we launch 5G in some European cities later this year.”