The telco cast a spotlight on the innovations it expects to see with 5G — an evolution of GSMA radio networking — at a technology showcase in Auckland on Tuesday.
By leveraging existing network infrastructure, Vodafone says 5G network upgrades will pave the way for a huge range of high-speed and high-capacity applications to happen easily over wireless networks.
And the telco says this means futuristic applications like driverless cars, connected robotics and live virtual reality could eventually become commonplace throughout society.
Applications included low-latency robots, live virtual reality performances and the world’s first gaming tournament over 5G. The tournament featured players from Vodafone staff and one of Australasia’s top Pro League of Legends teams "Tectonic", and was broadcast to thousands through the e-sports platform, Twitch.
Commenting on the 5G trials, Zoltan Losteiner, Nokia head of Oceania, said: “The clear message from the recent Mobile World Congress is that 5G is now real and this trial with Vodafone is further evidence of the significant building momentum.
“We see a high level of 5G readiness in New Zealand and Australia. There is a good understanding of the industrial transformation that is emerging in areas like agriculture and public safety and how existing 4G networks can evolve to support new capabilities, delivering higher performance while improving efficiency.
“Nokia technology, such as our AirScale and Airframe platforms, and ultra-small, high-performance ReefShark chipset, is leading the market and opening the way to rapid network evolution and the expected launch of 5G services within the next two to three years.”
Vodafone chief executive Russell Stanners said, “Today’s 5G event is about showcasing how we can easily evolve our existing 4G and 4G+ networks to 5G, and in doing so, prepare our customers and the country for the high speed, low latency applications expected in a future 5G world.
“As 5G is an incremental upgrade to our existing mobile network, these services will be deployed throughout New Zealand in both urban and rural settings – opening up a world of possibility for digital innovation everywhere.”
The trial 5G system powering the showcase is based on multi-vendor equipment, including Nokia’s AirScale and Airframe platforms, connecting to a device working on third-party chipsets.
This 5G system operates in the millimetre wavelength spectrum band, and Vodafone has plans to test it across the 3.5GHz band soon.
“As a leading global mobile player Vodafone has been actively involved in leading and shaping the 5G evolution from the beginning with trials and partnerships underway across the world. Vodafone will continue to be at the forefront of the development of 5G, and with our Kiwi ingenuity we will be working hard to bring our customers the latest developments in 5G as soon as they become available,” Russell said.