Vodafone Germany has announced that its 5G mobile network now covers 35 million people via 15,000 cellular antennas at 5,000 locations, already exceeding its 30 million-population coverage target for the year, having expanded the 5G footprint from 25 million people (via 10,000 antennas in 3,000 locations) reported in May. Furthermore, Vodafone has expanded its 5G Standalone (SA) network coverage to ten million people; after activating its first 1,000 5G SA antennas in the spring using 3.5GHz frequencies exclusively, the operator has now tripled the number of SA-equipped antennas to 3,000 using 700MHz spectrum, which enables a base station coverage radius of up to 8km with 200Mbps data speeds (compared to around 1km for 3.5GHz, with speeds up to 1Gbps).
Vodafone plans to expand its 5G footprint to 60 million people – roughly 72% of the population – in its next financial year ending March 2023, while also expanding 5G SA technology to every 5G antenna in the network by that date. Customers can now access 5G SA services with Samsung Galaxy S21 devices, while various other handsets will soon be activated on the SA network via software updates. Oppo Find X3 Pro phones have been supported by the SA network since April. Vodafone stresses that all base stations upgraded with 5G SA technology will still support 5G smartphones in Non-Standalone (NSA) mode.
CEO Hannes Ametsreiter declared: ‘We are activating the most modern 5G network in Europe … turning our entire 5G network into a real-time network – in the city and in the country – with all available 5G frequencies. In the coming year, every 5G antenna will also become a 5G Standalone antenna. With 5G, we not only bring high bandwidths, but also extremely short response times and network slicing to people and factories.’ The company also highlighted its adoption of energy-saving antenna technology from Ericsson ‘which requires around 40% less energy [than previous antennas] to transmit data,’ with the first 900 of these antennas to be deployed by March 2022.