back to article Vodafone offers '5G Ultra' to users of very specific phones in very specific locations

Vodafone is claiming to be the first UK telco to provide 5G Standalone services to customers, but only in select locations and on certain devices. Experts question whether consumers will really notice any difference. The telco, which plans to merge with CK Hutchinson's Three in the UK, said that its 5G Standalone service will …

  1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Call me Mr Thickie Luddite but what is the advantage of 200Mbps over 50Mbps on a phone?

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Plenty of people use their phones as a mobile hotspot.

      I was doing it... what? 15 years ago? In remote Scottish backwaters where I was the only one with signal and I had a table of friends/family that piggybacked off my connection.

      I don't ever use trains, but I can quite imagine there are a LOT of people who dig out a laptop on a train and basically connect as if they are in the office, not to mention those people who work from home or while out in pubs or the field nowadays.

      Never, in the course of human endeavour, has someone NOT found a use for even more data and processing even faster.

      1. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

        I remember watching a tomorrows world episode where they were talking about 3G and mentioned speeds of up to 2Mbps, but "of course, on a stationary device, not a moving train" and that seemed fantastic. At the time I was on 0.05Mbps dialup connection and my office was on a "superfast 256Kbps" connection

      2. david 142

        Yes, hot spotting can be a big thing. I didn't have a land line in my place in Bristol in 2018. 4g was consistently above 50 Mbps, adsl would have been slower probably less than 10. Sometimes you have to download big files so faster is better.

        The big one for me was when there is network congestion. You need the big numbers initially so it's still workable when you only get a small percentage.

      3. johnfbw

        I've got 300mb here and even though I can easily get the 1000mb package I can't see the need, I never saturate the connection - even when streaming multiple feeds. Bottlenecks aren't on the bit coming to my house and latency does not decrease with bandwidth

    2. b0llchit Silver badge

      ...what is the advantage...

      Well, let me take a guess. The advantage: Faster porn, bigger porn, huge porn, more porn, HD porn, HD+ porn, HD++ porn, streaming porn, multiple streams porn, back streams porn, front streams porn.

      Looks like an advantage. What do you think?

      1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

        You missed the 3D porn and VR porn

        1. John Sager

          AI porn too, or is that far too wierd?

    3. mark l 2 Silver badge

      Its still not very useful to have this ultra 5G at the moment since the article mentions it only works with specific phone in specific areas. So i suspect even if you did use your phone as a hotspot you will only get these top speeds and low latency for very briefly from a moving train.

      Now if they were supporting a 5G modem/router you could deploy instead of getting a fixed line broadband, that might be a better use for this technology. I am sure there are far more people who would ditch their fixed line broadband if they could get 200Mb 5G connection for home or business, if it was priced competitively.

    4. Annihilator

      I'd imagine that realistically it means that 4 people near each other can all get 50Mbps on a phone...

      Or more realistically, that a hypothetical users in a test lab can get 200Mbps inside a faraday cage with a cell tower inside it.

  2. Martin Summers Silver badge

    Is the phone restriction possibly due to them offering mmWave in those locations I wonder?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Easy PR?

    Personally, I'd like them to get their 4G coverage improved. Around us, my phone is often dropping back to 3G - which doesn't bode well for when they switch 3G off. There are even some parts of our High Street where it can drop to E. It's not heavily built up (a rural area - a village that's morphing into a small dormitory town) so it shouldn't be rocket science.

    1. CountCadaver

      Re: Easy PR?

      Blame nimbys and wellness freaks who object to every mast application with scare stories and far fetched whining

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Easy PR?

        ISTR that when 5G (or was it 4 or 6 or whatever?) being mooted it was said that because the range was so small the base stations could be like WiFi and instead of erecting the sort of masts they're now putting up they would be many unnoticeably small boxes similar to WiFi base stations on lamp-posts etc.

        This morning I went to give a wheel-chair bound friend a lift. Being built on a steep hillside the bottom of her drive is well below road level. While waiting for her to manoeuvre out of the house I happened to look up & realised just how over-towering the newly installed 5G mast is. It's just over the garden wall but the garden wall is a retaining wall against the road so the effective height is getting on for 30m.

        They are monstrously intrusive constructions. Their designers should have been sent back to their drawing boards CAD screens and told to start again. Forget brain frying & spreading Covid nonsense - aesthetics are a completely adequate reason to object.

  4. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    "ISTR that when 5G (or was it 4 or 6 or whatever?) being mooted it was said that because the range was so small the base stations could be like WiFi and instead of erecting the sort of masts they're now putting up they would be many unnoticeably small boxes similar to WiFi base stations on lamp-posts etc."

    Yeah that was just PR hype. Microcells are small like this (and mmwave 5G does have coverage of a matter of city blocks.) But of course, just like 2G and 3G, 4G and 5G run on a variety of bands and for wider coverage the cell companies are going to continue to use the "cell towers" as well.

    So there's (perhaps) 2 different technologies at play here (and I don't know if Vodafone is using both or not). 5G standalone is just as described, the cell cos started rolling out 5G for faster data before the spec was completely finished, so all "control channel" traffic ran over 4G, voice calls ran over 4G (if the company and phone support VoLTE, otherwise it could still run voice over 2G or 3G potentially). Running control channel over 5G is "5G Standalone", the battery life savings are mainly by not having to keep connected to both 4G and 5G. The 5G control channel does let it schedule time to send/receive data packets a bit faster so you get a slightly lower ping that way too, and save a slight additional bit of power since the radio can spend slightly more time powered down.

    The OTHER technology is mmwave 5G. This is the stuff that gets easy multi-gbps speeds, Verizon got "in the lab" 5gbps over it 3 years ago and I've seen people posts for the last 2 or 3 years from places like Manhattan showing they could easily get 2.5gbps speeds in real-world use. The sites have a range of a matter of a few city blocks (because 28ghz+ frequencies get scattered and absorbed), but massive speeds. This isn't doing anything too fancy to get those speeds, they just run 400-800mhz wide channels versus the typical 4G/5G channels being 20-40mhz, so needless to say if you have a channel that's like 40x the size you can get much higher speeds over it.

    The nice middle ground now, C-Band (5G bands n77, n78, n79 -- don't worry, I googled those bands I didn't have them off the top of my head.) This is 3.3ghz-5ghz range. It's used by satellite (not Sky Television, the giant dishes that went up first in the late 1970s and 1980s, and TV networks and such still use for uplinks), but in the US at least the FCC, cell cos, and satellite companies came to an agreement where the satellite companies are getting paid to move all their remaining C-Band stuff to one end of the band so the rest can be used to free up like 1500mhz or so for additional speed -- this is nice because it has FAR higher range than mmwave band, but (since it's a huge block of channels) should allow massive speeds. (For most cell cos, CBand alone will give them more spectrum than they have in all their other bands combined, so it should give a nice speed boost when they have it all up and running.)

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Yeah that was just PR hype"

      Sometimes people should be held to their hype.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fix coverage on trains: Southampton to London Waterloo coverage patchy on all networks

    Needs to be fixed on trains.

    There's the comment: "read a book instead" in areas of poor coverage. Of course. But this is about that people having a choice to be able to do internet dependent things (work, study, household online admin chores) whilst sat on a train instead of having to do that when they get home.

    Southampton to Waterloo rail line (and between previous stations including Bournemouth) has patchy coverage and it's been like this for years and years from personal experience, on all networks. Most of Winchester station on the train on the same line has next to no coverage, again on all networks.

    There are deep cuttings on rail lines that make reception improvements a certain challenge but I'd rather they focus on innovative technology for that than chasing faster speeds.

    More coverage please, because y'know, it is mobile i.e. moving. Speeds when there is coverage can be fast enough.

  6. Big_Boomer Silver badge


    Isn't that the one that requires TWO layers to your tinfoil hat and that the hat be thoroughly grounded? I'm sure it also gives you cooties or Covid or some such, and can be directly linked to brain shrinkage and the proliferation of ignorance.

    This sounds to me like someone in marketing thought that they could re-ignite the excitement around 5G. It's just faster data. Useful and all that but not really exciting.

  7. TheFifth


    I've was on holiday in Limoges, France all last week. Whilst there, the 5G gave me 280-320Mbps throughout the city and that was with my three year old iPhone 12 mini, so not a special handset. Didn't matter where I was, the reception was universally great. Faster than my 250Mbps 'Super Fast' Virgin broadband at home!

    Coverage was amazing compared to the UK. I only see 5G in one small area of my home city and it's not fast at all, peaking at around 50-60Mbps. It comes and goes too dependant on which way you're facing. You have to stand with the phone out in front of you and point it directly at an antenna to get 5G. Normally it's 4G all the way and being O2, that 4G is next to useless if more than five people are trying to use the same cell.

    Weird how this is trumpeted as some big, unusual thing. Seemed to be the norm in France (maybe it was just the region I was in?).

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