In a year of 5G firsts, Birmingham New Street has become the first train station in the UK to trial 5G.

As part of Vodafone’s UK-wide trial of 5G, the technology was tested on the New Street concourse, with commuters invited to test 5G speeds using a 5G router, achieving speeds of 325MB per second.

Although 5G-compatible devices are not yet on the market, many companies have announced handsets launching this year, so consumers may soon be able to test the low latency and high speeds promised by 5G and using their own devices.

This is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority’s strategy to introduce cutting-edge digital communications to businesses and consumers in the area. It is hoped that the introduction of 5G will help boost the economy in the region. Leader of Birmingham City Council Cllr Ian Ward said:

“The West Midlands wants to lead the way in 5G and this is an exciting step forward. 5G will help us supercharge the West Midlands economy; and the possibilities for businesses, individuals, investors and innovators are huge.”

Vodafone’s plans for 5G in the UK

Vodafone is rolling out 5G to a number of key commuter locations across the UK during 2019; and will switch on the new network in 19 towns and cities by the end of the year.  Live testing is now also taking place at a number of sites across Birmingham.

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said:

“I am delighted that Vodafone has brought 5G to Birmingham; and that New Street is the UK’s first 5G-enabled rail station. When I was Managing Director at John Lewis, we saw online shopping transform the retail industry. I believe the West Midlands 5G project will enable our businesses, hospitals, public transport and universities to explore new services and stay ahead of their competition.”

In other 5G news, the race to the top continues, with South Korea’s SK Telecom claiming to have launched the world’s first commercial 5G network, which was quickly disputed by US rival AT&T, which said it launched a network in December.

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