Vodafone Germany has put its first 5G Standalone (5G SA) radio small cells in operation in the city of Cologne. The so-called ‘5G+’ small cells are aimed at providing additional capacity and increasing coverage to the existing mobile network in dense urban areas. The operator has equipped two street lamps with its own mobile communications technology, including the antennas, active technology and cable ducts, while RheinEnergie supplies the electricity to power the street lamps, which are connected to a fibre-optic network. The antennas have a range of up to 400m and utilise the 3.5GHz band to offer speeds of up to 1Gbps.
Last month Vodafone announced plans to expand the coverage of its 5G SA network, which it has dubbed 5G+, to ‘almost everyone’ in the country by 2025. The firm launched its 5G SA network in April 2021 and the service is now supported on a total of 16 smartphones and tablets. At present, Vodafone’s 5G SA network comprises 4,000 antennas and covers around ten million people, compared to 45 million for its 5G service, but the firm states that as the expansion process continues, 5G SA will also be activated at each 5G station with a view to achieving almost nationwide coverage by 2025. The network uses frequencies in both the 3.5GHz and 700MHz bands.
‘Today’s commissioning of Europe’s first 5G+ street lamps in Cologne is an important signal: the provision of urban infrastructure for further 5G expansion works best in good cooperation with politicians. The Cologne model can become a model for Germany,’ commented Hannes Ametsreiter, CEO of Vodafone Germany, adding: ‘Full 5G is a game changer for our industry and the digital key to future prosperity in our society. 5G+ can do even more than bandwidth. 5G+ reacts at lightning speed, connects ten times more objects and saves electricity.’