UK operators Vodafone and O2 wasted no time in using spectrum allocated by regulator Ofcom last week, with O2 upgrading 4G at 60 cell sites in London and Vodafone performing tests in its airwaves earmarked for 5G.
In separate announcements, O2 confirmed it had switched on the 2.3GHz spectrum at 60 sites, with further deployments expected in the coming weeks, while Vodafone claimed the UK’s first test of 5G spectrum using an existing live network.
Vodafone said the test was a “major milestone” for the country’s telecommunications industry. It took place at the company’s headquarters in Newbury, a town in the south of England, and Manchester in the north-west. The operator used massive MIMO technology combined with 3.4GHz spectrum running over its core 4G network.
Nick Jeffery, Vodafone UK CEO, hailed the expected impact of 5G across multiple sectors from medicine to robotics, adding the test was “just the beginning” of its plans.
Vodafone was allocated the largest amount of spectrum in the 3.4GHz band at the country’s auction in results announced by regulator Ofcom last week, acquiring 50MHz for £378 million. EE and O2 acquired 40MHz in the band, while the UK’s smallest operator 3UK won 20MHz.
During the same process – which had been dogged by legal challenges – O2 parent Telefonica UK was allocated the 40MHz of 4G-suitable spectrum, which it began using earlier this week.