Holidaymakers travelling from Manchester airport were treated to super-quick mobile connectivity, with 5G letting them download television entertainment for their flights in a quarter of the usual time.

In spite of reports that 5G rollout in the UK is being slowed down by problems over the installation of 5G equipment, Manchester has become the UK’s first airport with the fifth generation of mobile network.

Vodafone set up 5G at a ‘blast pod’ in the airport’s Terminal One, where travellers could download television series Tin Star through the streaming service NOW TV.

The 5G delivered on speed, letting holidaymakers download one episode in only 45 seconds and the whole series downloaded in six minutes and seven seconds, four times faster than using 4G, a near Wi-Fi experience.

5G handsets are not yet available to buy, so Vodafone used a ‘Gigacube’ device, which is a portable router enabled for 5G, to provide the network to the airport’s travellers.

5G rolls out across UK travel centres

Now Vodafone has its 5G masts up at Manchester airport, the operator is trialling the network at several other travel centres around the city and also across the UK, with further trials planned for Snow Hill railway station in Birmingham.

Nick Jeffery, chief executive officer at Vodafone UK said: “We all love to catch up on our favourite TV shows, play games or finish off some work when travelling.

“5G, with its fast speeds and quick response times, will make that quick and easy, even in busy locations.

“We are proud to be the first provider to bring 5G to an airport and will be adding more major travel hotspots to our 5G network throughout the year.”

Brad Miller, chief operating officer at Manchester Airport said: “We are delighted to support Vodafone’s 5G trial at Manchester Airport.

“As we progress with the design and delivery of our £1bn transformation programme, we are constantly exploring how new innovations and technology can be applied to improve the airport experience.”

5G firsts across the world

In mid-January 2019, telecom giant ZTE announced its claim to the world’s first 5G phone call, using a 5G prototype smartphone in Shenzhen, China, a city described as the hardware capital of the world.

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The test included a voice call over Wechat, the Chinese messaging service.

Another first is the 5G smartphone due to be released by Verizon and Samsung later this year.

1.5 billion 5G subscriptions are predicted by 2024 and companies such as Huawei, dogged by claims over spying capabilities in its hardware, OnePlus and Motorola are all scheduled to launch 5G tech this year.