- Vodafone sets up “blast pods” in UK travel hotspots to offer entertainment downloads and to demonstrate the speeds available from 5G
- The pods engineer 5G to Wi-Fi downloads
- Vodafone claims its ‘blast pod’ at Manchester airport represents the UK’s first ‘5G-connected’ airport
Vodafone is claiming Manchester Airport as the UK’s first ‘5G-connected’ airport, thanks to its good self, of course. “Vodafone has switched on 5G at Manchester Airport, with other travel locations set to follow suit within weeks,” trumpets the press release. “Holidaymakers and travellers getting ready for the half-term getaway tested the new, super-fast network by downloading a film or TV box set using 5G.”
What it’s done is to connect its base station via 5G to its ‘blast pod’ inside the terminal building (see picture above). The Blast Pod is a 5G (presumably NR non-standalone) to Wi-Fi hub.
During the trial, Passengers are given a free Entertainment Pass on streaming service NOW TV so that they could download an episode of the new series of Tin Star in 45 seconds and the whole series in six minutes and seven seconds - up to four times faster than over 4G, which would have taken 26 minutes and eight seconds,” says Vodafone.
The idea is that passengers could digitally stock up some entertainment on their devices to see them through their flight.
Vodafone says this sort of download speed will allow “a home Wi-Fi like experience, on the go” so is a good taster for digital life under 5G.
According to Vodafone, “the trial used 5G with Active Antenna (or Massive MIMO) technology at Manchester Airport – a wireless network that allows the transmitting and receiving of more than one data signal. This creates multiple 5G ‘motorways’ from one antenna, which are then beamed to a 5G router to create a fixed wireless access connection for many users. This allows any device with Wi-Fi to connect to the router and benefit from a high-speed data connection.”
In other words, it’s a Wi-Fi connection to Vodafone’s 5G network.
Clearly the idea is to keep the 5G pot boiling over the long gap between all the early 5G announcements and the arrival of actual 5G equipped smartphones, but I’m not sure that it’s a real aid to consumer clarity on what 5G is and why they should get excited about it.
In this scenario it appears to represent a jump up from 4G to Wi-Fi. That might lead to some head-scratching.
Vodafone says it’s intending to keep deploying its ‘blast pods’ - which are actually enabled by its ‘Gigacube’ 5G-enabled portable routers - at more airports and railway stations through the summer.
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