Dutch operator VodafoneZiggo has announced that it is activating its 5G mobile network using existing frequencies today across ‘more than half of the Netherlands’, under a plan to reach ‘national’ 5G coverage by the end of July 2020. New and existing mobile customers with a 5G-ready subscription and a suitable device can use the new non-standalone 5G services within initial coverage areas, with automatic fallback to 4G LTE when outside these zones. VodafoneZiggo disclosed that it has implemented 5G services via its existing antennas and Dynamic Spectrum Sharing technology utilising existing LTE spectrum bands, in partnership with Ericsson.
In early March 2020 VodafoneZiggo pre-emptively added 5G access to a range of its mobile tariffs, with all ‘Red’ (consumer) and ‘Red Pro’ (business) subscribers receiving 5G at no extra costs – with service activation expected for all these users ‘in the coming days’ so that ‘5G will be fully active within a week’ according to the company’s press release. ‘Start’ tariff customers can also use 5G but only with an additional EUR2 (USD2.17) monthly fee. VodafoneZiggo currently offers four devices activated for 5G use on its network: Samsung Galaxy S20 5G, S20+, S20 Ultra and Oppo Find X2 Pro, with more devices to follow.
VodafoneZiggo notes that the mobile data download speeds that 5G can offer using its existing spectrum reach a maximum of 1Gbps, compared to the peak 350Mbps performance of its current commercial 4G offerings, although it adds that ‘in practice’ the 5G data rates experienced by initial service users ‘will be on average 10% higher’ than the 4G speeds they were previously getting. Network latency (response time) will improve by about 30%: from an average of around 30 milliseconds on 4G to below 20 milliseconds on 5G. Like its Dutch rivals, VodafoneZiggo is anticipating a multi-band auction for new 5G spectrum later this year.