Vodafone says that it is trialling ‘gigabit speeds’ of 1,000Mbs on its mobile network in Dublin.
The operator claims to have achieved the landmark speed, normally only seen on fixed line fibre broadband networks, over a “live mobile network in Dublin by transmitting files to a mobile phone over the air in real life conditions”.
It says that the tests are part of a larger program of network improvements aimed at evolving its 4G network into a “4G+” network.
“These features speed up information transfer rates by up to 30pc in download and 50pc in upload allowing customers to, for example, send files to the cloud with transfer speeds of up to 112Mbps or download content with speeds of up to 300Mbps,” said a Vodafone spokesperson. “This will radically change how customers use and view content. These latest innovations have already been deployed in some areas in Dublin.”
The devices used to complete the 1,000Mbs test were not any present-day smartphones, most of which are not capable of such speeds, but were completed between an Ericsson radio and a Qualcomm Snapdragon X16 LTE mobile test device.
However, smartphones are starting to emerge which can process such speeds. Sony’s newly announced Xperia XZ Premium device claims to be the first commercially available smartphone to have the capacity for 1Gbs throughput.
The company will also unveil a new ‘internet of things’ network, designed to let millions of new devices connect to one another in cities and towns. This Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) network will be commercially available in the summer of 2017, according to the chief technology officer of Vodafone Ireland, Madalina Suceveanu, who said that Ireland will be “among the first European countries to bring” the technology to market.
“Achieving gigabit speeds on our mobile network and the launch of NB-IoT in November 2016 are important milestones for Vodafone Ireland,” she said. “We are preparing our mobile infrastructure for the future, which is helping us support Irish businesses to be at the forefront of connectivity, across both traditional mobile and connected machines. We are already in the process of preparing the wide scale roll-out of our commercial NB-IoT network this coming summer, the launch of voice-over-4G later on this year, as well as pushing forward with achieving gigabit speeds. This all drives and reinforces our vision for a gigabit society in Ireland.”
The company is to pay for the network improvements with a new €500m investment drive over the next three years.
According to Vodafone’s figures, this capital would bring to €750m the company’s network buildout in Ireland over a five year period and €1.3bn over a seven-year-period between 2013 and 2020.
The investment and network upgrades will be seen as a precursor to preparation for 5G planning, with a next-generation network due after 2020.
Ireland’s telecoms regulator, Comreg, has yet to outline plans for how it will allocate 5G in Ireland. Both 4G and 3G licences were distributed through auctions. The 4G auction in 2012 raised over €800m for the Exchequer.
Ireland’s minister for communications, Denis Naughten, has indicated that he will seek to have 5G licences awarded on a geographically inclusive basis rather than by population coverage.