Vodafone Group booked downlink data rate improvements in a trial of 1024 QAM technology conducted with Qualcomm and Xiaomi, as the operator continues to seek improvements in the performance of its 5G infrastructure.

The operator stated 1024 QAM is capable of delivering data rates of 1.8Gb/s, which would offer a theoretical increase in capacity of 25 per cent in model circumstances.

Vodafone tested the technology’s potential to transmit video and data from the RAN to a 5G device. The trials in Germany and Spain employed the 3.5GHz band and used the Xiaomi 14 Ultra smartphone running a Qualcomm Snapdragon X75 5G Modem RF system.

In Germany, Vodafone booked a 20 per cent improvement in throughput on its commercial 5G network over a distance of up to 600m. At one of its Spanish research centres, the operator came close to the 1.8Gb/s data rate in the downlink.

Vodafone predicted 1024 QAM would become more widely available in 2025 and hinted it could be employed in small cells by explaining it “is suited to supporting multiple customers close to a mobile site in busy areas such as a shopping centre or high street”.

The trio recorded improved uplink data rates in trials conducted earlier this year, though Vodafone continued to emphasise only customers with the very latest smartphones would be able to reap the benefits in either case.

Vodafone CNO Alberto Ripepi said the tests mean subscribers will “benefit from a head start” once compatible handsets become available. The operator will also be in a position to “offer our technical expertise to partners and other providers through our new commercial model”.

Qualcomm Europe VP for technology Dino Flore said the trio are pushing the boundaries of what can be done with 5G, with Guoquan Zhang, GM of Xiaomi’s Software department pointing to the company’s role as an innovator.