Vodafone 5G coverage and roll-out

Vodafone 5G coverage

Vodafone is launching its 5G service on July 3rd and has already outlined where will be getting 5G initially and throughout the rest of 2019.

While it plans to launch 5G very soon it probably won’t have comprehensive coverage until years after that, but that’s in line with rivals.

Here’s everything you need to know about Vodafone 5G in the UK, including its launch plans, its spectrum holdings and its 5G speeds.

Coverage

Vodafone’s 5G network isn’t live yet, but it will be from July 3rd, at which point seven cities will have partial 5G coverage.

Which cities will have Vodafone 5G at launch?

At launch you’ll be able to get Vodafone 5G in parts of:

  • Birmingham
  • Bristol 
  • Cardiff
  • Glasgow
  • Manchester
  • Liverpool
  • London

Coverage in these cities probably won’t be comprehensive at launch though, and we’ll give you an idea of which parts have coverage once it has been revealed.

How do I check Vodafone 5G coverage?

Vodafone has an online coverage tool where you can enter your postcode to get an accurate estimation of the 5G coverage in your area. Of course, before July 3rd there won’t be any to show, but even once Vodafone’s 5G network launches we recommend that you check coverage in your area before buying a 5G phone or plan, as it won’t initially be widely available.

Vodafone’s coverage map also shows 4G, 3G and 2G coverage, any available Vodafone Wi-Fi hotspots in the area, and can even give you an estimate of the speeds you can expect with each data type. Just tap on the ‘data speed info’ button to see this once you’ve entered a location or post code.

Check 5G Coverage

How does Vodafone's 5G coverage compare to the other mobile networks?

Currently Vodafone doesn’t have any 5G coverage. In fact, EE is the only UK network that does. It has coverage in parts of London, Cardiff, Belfast, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Manchester, which is one less location than Vodafone will be launching 5G in on July 3rd.

Vodafone will soon also have competition from Three, which is bringing 5G to London in August, and from O2, which at some point in summer 2019 will be launching 5G in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London.

5G launch cities plus imminent launches

Cities

EE

Vodafone

Three

O2

Belfast

Launched

2020

2020

Summer

Birmingham

Launched

3rd July

2019

?

Bristol

2019

3rd July

2019

?

Cardiff

Launched

3rd July

2019

Summer

Edinburgh

Launched

2020

2019

Summer

Glasgow

2019

3rd July

2019

?

Liverpool

2019

3rd July

2019

?

London

Launched

3rd July

August

Summer

Manchester

Launched

3rd July

2019

?

If your location is not listed in the table above then check below to see if you will get Vodafone 5G in 2019 or later.

What locations will Vodafone 5G roll out to next?

Vodafone has also said that by the end of 2019 it will have brought 5G to parts of the following locations:

  • Birkenhead
  • Blackpool
  • Bournemouth
  • Guildford
  • Newbury
  • Portsmouth
  • Plymouth
  • Reading
  • Southampton
  • Stoke-on-Trent
  • Warrington
  • Wolverhampton

Which other locations are scheduled to get Vodafone 5G?

Vodafone hasn’t yet said which locations will get 5G beyond 2019, but we’ll update this section as soon as we hear anything. Note however that smaller and more rural locations are likely to be waiting longer than large towns and cities.

Of course, as well as new towns and cities we’d also expect coverage to quickly improve in the cities that already have Vodafone 5G.

Vodafone has previously said that it expects a similar speed rollout to 4G, with around 50% of devices getting a 5G connection by the mid-2020s. That could put it behind Three, as that network has said that over the next three years it expects 5G to cover 80% of its network traffic.

What happens if I’m not in a 5G coverage area?

If you’re not in a 5G coverage area, then you’ll be using 4G or 3G. If you’re on Vodafone already you should have an idea of the coverage and speeds you can expect with this, but you’ll find an overview of Vodafone’s 4G coverage below.

4G coverage / comparison

Vodafone has around 99% UK population coverage with 4G, along with around 99% with both 3G and 2G. That puts it roughly in line with rivals. Below you’ll find a 4G coverage comparison between Vodafone and the other main UK networks, based on the latest available data.

Network

4G population coverage

EE

>99%

Three

99.8%

Vodafone

99%

O2

99%

Check 4G/ 5G Coverage

5G coverage abroad

Vodafone has announced that it will let customers roam on 5G in Spain, Italy and Germany from this summer. With no other networks yet announcing 5G roaming plans, this could be one way that Vodafone has an early 5G advantage.

Speed and latency

5G is set to be far faster than 4G. As Vodafone hasn’t launched its 5G network yet we don’t know exactly what its real world speeds will be, but we have some idea.

Current speeds

At launch, Vodafone’s 5G speeds are expected to typically be between 150-250Mbps. However, peak speeds may be far higher. Vodafone hasn’t yet said, but EE claims its peak speeds will exceed 1Gbps, so Vodafone’s speeds may be similar.

For comparison, Vodafone’s 4G speeds tend to average around 22Mbps based on data from OpenSignal. Even peak 4G speeds in the UK tend to be under 100Mbps, and 3G speeds are slower still. So 5G should be a significant speed upgrade from day one.

Future speeds

Vodafone hasn’t outlined how fast its 5G network will ultimately become, but it is likely to get faster over time. That’s because initial 5G networks won’t be ‘standalone’, instead relying on a combination of 5G and 4G technology.

As we move to standalone 5G, speeds should increase. Vodafone is also likely to acquire more spectrum over time, which could help give it the ability to consistently support higher speeds.

Exactly how fast we’re talking is uncertain, but some estimates have put 5G speeds at over 10Gbps eventually. This won’t just make your phone faster, it will also help enable some of the more advanced use cases of 5G, such as remote surgery and fully automated vehicles.

Latency

Latency is how long the mobile network takes to respond to a request. It’s measured in milliseconds (ms), so it’s usually an almost imperceptible amount of time, but while on 4G networks it’s often around 40-50ms, with 5G it’s expected to get as low as 1ms.

This will help everything feel smoother and more instantaneous, which will benefit day to day things like online gaming and loading streamed videos, but also help enable new use cases.

Vodafone hasn’t yet said what latency to expect on its 5G network, but you can expect it to be low. We’ll update this section with exact numbers once we have some.

Vodafone spectrum

Vodafone came out of Ofcom’s initial 5G spectrum auction with 50MHz of 3.4GHz spectrum. Specifically, it acquired the 3410MHz – 3460MHz part of the band, which it paid £378,240,000 for.

That’s more than any other rival acquired, as EE and O2 each got 40MHz while Three won just 20MHz. That could put Vodafone in a strong early 5G position, as 3.4GHz spectrum should be ideal for the speedy technology, though notably Three already had some before the auction.

Vodafone also has 176MHz of immediately useable spectrum in other bands. This is less suited to 5G and Vodafone has less of it than EE, but it still has a reasonable amount.

Immediately useable spectrum

3.4GHz held

3.4GHz allocation

Total spectrum held

176MHz

50MHz

3410-3460Mhz

226MHz

Note: 'Immediately useable spectrum' refers to spectrum in various bands that can be used now for 4G, 3G and 2G. Vodafone holds spectrum in the 800MHz, 900MHz, 1.4GHz, 1.8GHz, 2.1GHz and 2.6GHz bands.

Note also that Vodafone should have plenty of opportunities to acquire more spectrum, as Ofcom is set to auction off some in the 3.6GHz – 3.8GHz range and the 700MHz band at some point. Spectrum in the 8GHz and 26GHz bands is also being freed up, and Ofcom is also planning to look into other frequency bands that might have auctionable spectrum suited to 5G.

 

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