Vodafone 5G

Vodafone launches 5G Ultra in UK

UK’s first 5G Standalone mobile network for consumers

Vodafone has launched 5G Standalone services to customers, calling it 5G Ultra, but only in select locations and on certain devices.

The company, which plans to merge with CK Hutchinson’s Three in the UK, said that its 5G Standalone service will be available initially in several locations across the country, chiefly large cities, but only on Samsung Galaxy S21 and S22 smartphones for now.

Vodafone says that the service is available at launch in “several locations” across the UK, including London, Manchester, Glasgow, and Cardiff, as well as the Wimbledon area to provide coverage for the tennis.

The service is claimed by Vodafone to offer greater 5G coverage, improved phone battery life, more reliable connections in busy locations.

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These benefits are supposedly a result of the network being upgraded to 5G Standalone in the locations listed, which means that the network core infrastructure has been refreshed with modern technology rather than simply bolting a 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) – the transmitter/receiver equipment – onto the existing infrastructure built for 4G networks, as the UK’s 5G support has been to date.

Customers with a compatible handset who signed a monthly contract after February 24 will have 5G Ultra added to their plan automatically at no extra cost, as will new customers and those upgrading. The 5G Ultra service will also be available for small business users.

Why Vodafone is only supporting Samsung Galaxy S21 and S22 phones at launch is a mystery but the company claims more devices will be added in July.

Max Taylor, Vodafone’s UK Chief Commercial Officer, said:

“Today our reliable, award-winning network gets even better with the launch of Vodafone 5G Ultra. Our customers in London, Manchester, Glasgow, and Cardiff will be the first to experience the fast speeds, longer lasting battery life and even more reliable connectivity 5G Ultra brings.”

Vodafone 5G Ultra

The 5G network, as it currently exists in most of the UK, only uses upgraded technology in the masts. This is known as 5G Non-standalone (5G NSA). With 5G Ultra, the servers in the core network, as well as the RedStream fibre optic backbone connecting those servers to the masts and to the wider internet, will have been upgraded, too.

5G Ultra provides fast download and upload speeds – up to 10 times faster than 4G. But there’s more to 5G Ultra than just speed. It has far greater capacity than either 4G or 5G Non-standalone, so far more smartphones and other devices in any given busy area – such as a train station, hospital or stadium – can be connected simultaneously.

A 5G Ultra connection is easier on your phone’s battery too, prolonging a phone’s battery runtime by as much as three hours.

5G Ultra has a feature called network steering. When connected to 5G Ultra, your phone will, depending on the network requirements of what you’re doing, automatically switch between 5G Standalone, 5G non-standalone and 4G.