Vodafone is trialling new technology to speed up 5G coverage across the State with the aim of making it available to at least 30 per cent of the population by next March.
The mobile operator, which was the first to roll-out 5G services locally, is trialling dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) technology from Ericsson that will allow it to deliver both 4G and 5G on the same spectrum band using existing antenna infrastructure.
The ability to have two mobile communications standards operating in parallel on one frequency band means a smooth transition between 4G and 5G for consumers, ensuring better coverage, lower lag time and better connections.
Vodafone said it will deploy the technology at 57 sites across 11 counties – Cork, Cavan, Galway, Dublin, Roscommon, Kerry, Limerick, Meath, Mayo, Offaly and Wicklow – by the end of this month. It plans to have it rolled out to 150 locations within eight months.
DSS technology solves the problem of catering to different users’ devices by proportionately differentiating between 4G and 5G. If all users in a network cell are using 4G, then the antenna will make the entire spectrum available to them, and vice versa for those using 5G. If there is a mix of 4G and 5G users, the antenna shares the spectrum out in proportion.
Vodafone’s high bandwidth 5G services are being deployed in dense urban city areas using 3.6GHz spectrum. DSS technology will offer customers speeds of up to 400Mbps, a much wider 5G coverage footprint and deeper in-building 5G service coverage.
The new 5G DSS service will be available on Samsung’s S20 range of 5G handsets when the service is live at the end of July. Other DSS compatible devices will be added in the coming months, Vodafone said.
Vodafone earlier this year achieved what it said was a world’s first test by demonstrating 5G DSS on a combination of two low spectrum bands at a demo in its laboratory in Dusseldorf.
5G is the next generation of mobile connectivity which succeeds the current 4G and older 3G systems. It brings faster speeds of over 1,000 megabits per second, as well as increased security, reliability and lower lag time on data.
Vodafone is one of many mobile operators worldwide keen to adopt DSS with Verizon having recently completed a successful trial in the US and Deutsche Telekom announcing it is to roll out the technology in Germany.
It was the first Irish mobile provider to roll out 5G services here albeit on a limited scale so far. It launched the State's first 5G network last August with Eir quickly following suit. Three Ireland has said it will introduce its services sometime in 2020.