Vodafone and Ericsson have teamed up with researchers at King's College London to conduct a pre-standard 5G test.
An important step in developing next-generation mobile technology, they tested 5G connectivity by using a prototype device in a central London 3.5 GHz spectrum field trial.
According to the researchers, this is the first 5G trial conducted by three parties and the first to explore pre-standard 5G working outside of 4G networks.
Vodafone said it will continue to test this technology and explore ways it can integrate the connectivity into its products and services before a commercial launch from 2020.
The aim of these live trials is to "establish the innovative uses of 5G services", especially in areas such as factory automation, smart energy grids and remote surgery.
Engineers tested 5G connectivity with a range of technologies at King's College London, including Massive MIMO. A key building block for 5G, it has antennae that send and receive data during large traffic loads.
Another big part of the project is finding ways that different bands of mobile spectrum can be combined to increase capacity and data speeds.
In this test, Vodafone combined four bands and was able to achieve data speeds of around 500 megabits per second. Such speeds are crucial for smart appliances and connected vehicles.
Kye Prigg, head of networks at Vodafone UK, said the initial success was a huge success and paves the way for the future deployment of 5G technology.
"We're delighted to be the first provider to test standalone 5G in the field, however, building a 5G network will take time," he said.
"Right now, we're also modernising our network by making smarter use of our existing mobile technology to keep ahead of consumption demands and provide the mobile coverage our customers deserve.
"5G also needs fibre optic cables. Together with CityFibre, we will soon start work installing the advanced fibre networks providing high-capacity backhaul connections required for 5G mobile services."
Marielle Lindgren, head of Ericsson in the UK and Ireland, said this test marks a crucial milestone in the development of 5G connectivity.
"Supporting our customers in making 5G a reality is key for us. This is a live trial in a densely populated central London urban area and the first time in the UK that we've been able to show pre-standard 5G working independently," he said.
"We remain committed to advancing 5G development in the UK, working closely with leading operators and ecosystem players to enable global scale and drive the industry in one common direction."
Mischa Dohler, a professor at King's College London, added: "We are immensely proud to support two of the industry's biggest names in one of the most exciting technology trials of our era.
"It is the product of years' long engagement with both Ericsson and Vodafone, and testimony to King's incredible research and innovation capabilities.
"To be the first in the UK to showcase live a technology which will fundamentally change our society for the better, is very humbling."
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