Vodafone 5G coverage and roll-out

Vodafone 5G coverage

Vodafone launched its 5G network on July 3rd and became the second mobile operator to launch 5G in the UK.

5G was available in 7 cities at launch and more recently, on 16th July, the operator launched 5G in a further 8 locations. Currently Vodafone 5G is only available in parts of 15 UK towns and cities, and coverage probably won't be comprehensive for years - but that's in line with rivals.

Here’s everything you need to know about Vodafone 5G in the UK (and beyond), including its coverage, its spectrum holdings and its 5G speeds.

Coverage

Here's the breakdown of locations where Vodafone's 5G network has been launched and is due to launch in 2019 and beyond.

Check 5G Coverage

Which cities have Vodafone 5G now?

At launch Vodafone switched on 5G in:

  • Birmingham

Including large parts of the city centre, the Bullring, Aston, Hockley, Newtown, parts of Gas Street Basin and more.

  • Bristol 

Including Castle Park, Old City, Saint Philips Marsh, parts of Stokes Croft, St Jude’s, parts of Easton, Netham Park, and parts of Wapping Wharf, among other locations.

  • Cardiff

Including Cooper’s Field, Newtown, Adamsdown, parts of Castle Quarter, parts of Cardiff University, and more.

  • Glasgow

Including parts of the city centre, Anderston, Bridgeton, Finnieston, parts of Hillhead, Kelvingrove Park, and more.

  • Manchester

Including Salford, Ordsall, parts of Old Trafford, Droylsden, parts of Wharfside Way, parts of Hyde Road, parts of Ashton Old Road, and more.

  • Liverpool

Including Cavern Quarter, St George’s Quarter, Liverpool Waterfront, Ropewalks, parts of Knowledge Quarter, Georgian Quarter, and more.

  • London

Including parts of Charing Cross, Holborn, Farringdon, Westminster, Belgravia, Newington, Fitzrovia, Clerkenwell, Pimlico, Poplar, Southwark, Hammersmith, Regent’s Park, and more.

Additional locations that now have Vodafone 5G (as of 16th July, 2019):

  • Birkenhead

Including parts of Park Road North, Duke Street, Price Street, and Beckwith Street, among others.

  • Bolton

Though according to Vodafone’s coverage checker the closest 5G is in Middlebrook at the time of writing.

  • Gatwick

Including Gatwick Airport.

  • Lancaster

Including parts of Ashton Road, Aldcliffe, and Barton Road, among others.

  • Newbury

Including parts of the centre, Victoria Park, Market Street, Oddfellows Road, Shaw, and Racecourse Road, among others.

  • Plymouth

Including parts of Stonehouse, Stoke, Lipson, Cattedown, East End, Oreston, Devonport, and Hoe Park, among others.

  • Stoke-on-Trent

Including parts of Queensway, City Road, Boothen, Staffordshire University, Shelton, Hanley Park, and more.

  • Wolverhampton

Including parts of Lower Horseley Fields, Willenhall Road, Bilston Street, Bilston Road, Stafford Street, Dunstall Hill, Monmore Green, Moseley, Stow Heath, Park Village, and more.

What locations will get Vodafone 5G next?

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

  • Blackpool
  • Bournemouth
  • Guildford
  • Portsmouth
  • Reading
  • Southampton
  • Warrington

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.

Vodafone has additionally brought 5G to the Isles of Scilly.

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. We recommend that you check coverage in your area before buying a 5G phone or plan, as it isn't initially 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?

At the time of writing, EE is the only other UK network with any 5G coverage. It has coverage in parts of London, Cardiff, Belfast, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Manchester, which is one less location than Vodafone.

Vodafone will soon also have competition from Three, which is bringing 5G to London in August, followed by 24 more locations, and from O2, which in October will be launching 5G in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London, Leeds and Slough. BT, Voxi and Sky Mobile also have 5G networks landing at some point in 2019.

You can see a comparison of each network's launch locations below - note that this list of cities only includes places that at least one network offered 5G in on day one, and doesn't include places where no network yet has 5G. For more complete lists, check each networks’ full coverage page (or scroll up for Vodafone’s).

5G confirmed launch comparison

Cities

EE

Vodafone

Three

O2

Belfast

Launched

2020

2020

October

Birmingham

Launched

Launched

2019

2020

Bristol

2019

Launched

2019

2019

Cardiff

Launched

Launched

2019

October

Edinburgh

Launched

2020

2019

October

Glasgow

2019

Launched

2019

2020

Liverpool

2019

Launched

2019

2020

London

Launched

Launched

August

October

Manchester

Launched

Launched

2019

2020

If your location is not listed in the table above use the coverage checker to find out more.

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 roaming abroad

Vodafone has also launched a 5G roaming service, so you can use 5G abroad at no extra cost.

At the time of writing you can get 5G in 55 towns and cities across Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK if you're on Vodafone, making for more places than any other UK network.

In Italy 5G roaming is currently available in Milan, Rome, Turin, Naples and Bologna.

In Spain you can get it in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Malaga, Zaragoza, Pamplona, Bilbao, La Coruña, Vigo, Vitoria, San Sebastián, Gijón, Logroño and Santander.

And in Germany it's available in Cologne, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Dortmund and Munich (seemingly among other unconfirmed locations), with Berlin and Frankfurt due to get 5G roaming on Vodafone at some point in August.

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. Vodafone hasn't yet revealed what its real world speeds will be, but we have some idea.

Current speeds

Vodafone claims that its 5G speeds will average 150-200Mbps, with peak speeds of 1Gbps. That’s roughly comparable to EE, and according to Vodafone means you’ll be able to download a full HD film in around 3 minutes, compared to over 15 minutes on 4G.

Indeed, 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 is 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.

5G Calling, 4G Calling and Wi-Fi Calling

5G Calling refers to making calls over 5G, rather than over 4G or 3G. The key immediate advantage to this is that it could allow for clearer, higher quality voice calls, as well as meaning that your phone won’t need to switch network technologies as soon as you answer a call – if you’re on 5G it can just keep using 5G.

Plus, it means you’ll be able to make and receive calls in places where there’s a 5G signal but no other network signal. That’s not likely to be much of a factor right now, but will be once 5G is widely available.

At the time of writing, no UK networks are offering this service, but we’d expect it will arrive over time, just as 4G Calling (aka Voice over LTE or VoLTE) did. That in itself offers higher call quality than voice calls over 3G, and is offered by Vodafone.

Wi-Fi Calling is a similar concept – it’s typically higher quality than a 3G call, but more importantly Wi-Fi Calling means you can call even when there’s no signal, as long as there’s an available Wi-Fi network. This too is offered by Vodafone.

5G phones

At the time of writing, Vodafone sells the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G and Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G. Other 5G phones are available elsewhere though, and more will be launching on Vodafone over time. Check out our 5G phones guide for full, up to date details.

Vodafone 5G and broadband

As well as offering 5G, Vodafone has become the first UK network to offer a combined package that bundles 5G mobile and home broadband together.

Note that this isn’t 5G home broadband, rather it’s Vodafone’s standard broadband service, but it keeps things simple by combining two services into one bill and it’s competitively priced, starting at £31 per month on an 18-month contract, and for unlimited 5G mobile data it rises to £43 per month at the time of writing.

It’s dubbed Vodafone Together, and for a limited time, new broadband customers also get a free Amazon Echo Plus, to take advantage of the fact that Vodafone is also the first network in the world to let customers make and receive calls via Alexa using their standard mobile plan.

Wi-Fi hotspots

Some networks augment their 5G, 4G and 3G coverage with a network of Wi-Fi hotspots that customers can access at no extra cost. However, at the time of writing Vodafone doesn’t offer this, though some plans include access to BT’s premium Wi-Fi hotspots.

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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