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Vodafone launches 5G trial at Manchester Airport


Vodafone is making Manchester Airport the UK's first 5G-connected airport with a trial at its Terminal One.

The operator says it plans to bring 5G to more airports and railway stations within a year. Vodafone 5G masts are now in place at Manchester Airport, forming part of the 5G pilots that are underway across the city. Further trials over the coming weeks will include Snow Hill railway station in Birmingham.

Testers at Manchester Airport downloaded content up to four times quicker than over 4G, Vodafone reports. Airport users were given NOW TV passes and could download a series episode in 45 seconds and a whole series in six minutes and seven seconds. On 4G, this took 26 minutes and eight seconds.

5G motorways

As 5G handsets are not yet available for consumers, Vodafone completed the trial using its Gigacube device, or ‘Blast Pod’ – a portable router that is 5G enabled.

The trial used 5G with Massive MIMO (multiple-input, multiple-output) technology – a wireless network that allows the transmitting and receiving of more than one data signal. 

“This creates multiple 5G ‘motorways’ from one antenna, which are then beamed to a 5G router to create a fixed wireless access connection for many users. This allows any device with Wi-Fi to connect to the router and benefit from a high-speed data connection,” Vodafone explained.

Targeting travel hotspots

Nick Jeffery, CEO, Vodafone UK said: “We all love to catch up on our favourite TV shows, play games or finish off some work when travelling. 5G, with its fast speeds and quick response times, will make that quick and easy, even in busy locations. We are proud to be the first provider to bring 5G to an airport and will be adding more major travel hotspots to our 5G network throughout the year.”

Brad Miller, Chief Operating Officer, Manchester Airport said: “We are delighted to support Vodafone’s 5G trial at Manchester Airport. As we progress with the design and delivery of our £1 billion transformation programme, we are constantly exploring how new innovations and technology can be applied to improve the airport experience.

“As a business with a strong presence in our surrounding community, Vodafone was a natural partner for a trial project like this and we look forward to collaborating with them again in the future.”