Vodafone’s 5G network at the UK’s Gatwick Airport has gone live

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Telecoms firm Vodafone has installed 5G capability at one of the U.K.’s busiest transport hubs, Gatwick Airport.

From Thursday, the high-speed, high-capacity and fiber optic network will enable travelers to get a strong 5G signal on their devices, Vodafone said.

5G refers to the fifth generation of mobile networks and promises cell phone users incredibly fast browsing experiences. 5G can also process reams of information and data simultaneously, meaning that its applications are not restricted to fast downloads and smooth streaming.

Vodafone said that 5G would support airport initiatives such as a forthcoming trial of robotic parking and the increased automation of a range of check-in and boarding systems. At the moment, the airport’s South Terminal is 5G ready, with the North Terminal set to follow suit by early 2020.

With more than 46 million passengers annually, Gatwick Airport operates flights to around 230 destinations in more than 70 countries. John Barton, the airport’s chief information officer, said that 5G had “the potential to unlock a wide range of new capabilities and to reliably connect everything around us to a network many times faster than those it replaces.”

Ben Stanton, a senior analyst at Canalys, told CNBC via email that while many airports had Wi-Fi networks set up, user experience was not always smooth. “Connecting to these networks can be a pain and require users to give up personal details like an email address,” he added.

“The coverage and quality-of-service on public Wi-Fi networks can also be poor, and they can be a less secure way to transmit sensitive information than a private connection.” 5G, Stanton said, had “the potential to make these networks defunct,” especially if more users started to move to plans with unlimited data.

Looking forward, he said that over the next decade 5G would “bring a range of opportunities, including better connectivity in crowded public spaces, such as stadiums, and new business models, such as cloud-gaming.”

2019-09-12 15:10:00

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