Vodafone’s 5G network is officially live, and today’s launch event showed off the world’s first haptic rugby tackle to demonstrate one of the capabilities of a faster, low-latency, 5G network.
Lewis Hamilton who officially switched the network on was also announced as Vodafone’s first UK 5G ambassador.
O2 has also been spotted upgrading a number of key sites in city centres, suggesting an imminent announcement of its own 5G launch date.
Vodafone has been allowing customers to buy a 5G handset for a while, so today’s national activation means it already has a number of customers able to take full advantage without having to do anything extra at all.
It has added 5G to its online coverage checker, so you can easily see if Vodafone has already got your home or work covered, including plans for additional coverage in the coming months.
In what came as somewhat of a surprise, the network has also launched new tariffs that include options based on speed – starting at a 2Mbps Unlimited Lite plan at £23/month, with a £26/month Unlimited plan offering speeds of up to 10Mbps and a premier Unlimited Max plan with no speed limit for £30 a month.
An entertainment pack can be added for £6 a month for accessing services like Amazon Prime Video, Spotify, Now TV and Sky Sports Mobile TV.
Vodafone claims its 5G network will offer speeds of up to ten times that of its existing 4G network.
To demonstrate the power of 5G, including low-latency connections, Vodafone demonstrated the world’s first ‘haptic rugby tackle, between Wasps rugby players Juan De Jongh and Will Rowlands over 100 miles apart from each other (one at London’s Sky Bar, the other at the Ricoh stadium in Coventry).
Juan De Jongh, wearing a full-body Teslasuit, simulated the impact of a tackle despite the huge distance from Will Rowlands.
De Jongh said: “I’ve never experienced anything like this. It felt like something from the Matrix. This technology could not only help athletes to train, but to get back into training after injury.”
Children from Old Leamingtonians RFC Juniors in Coventry were able to try out their tackling skills on De Jongh by running towards a padded cylinder containing sensors. Detecting contact, the sensors transmitted a physical sense of impact instantaneously to De Jongh’s haptic suit.
Scott Petty, Chief Technology Officer at Vodafone said: “This stunt truly demonstrates the power and capabilities of Vodafone’s 5G network. The speed and low latency of the network opens a wealth of new opportunities that have not been possible before. One of the most exciting is haptic communication technology that allows people to feel physical sensations remotely. Haptic technology like this will play a huge part in the future from healthcare to gaming.”
Teslasuit’s full body haptic feedback system provides users with sensation and a sense of touch in virtual and augmented reality. This electro-stimulation improves the learning experience by increasing immersion, fostering 360-degree awareness and engaging muscle memory.
Last week, Vodafone announced 5G coverage in the Isles of Scilly and partnered with the world’s smallest football league to offer 5G video streaming of games, and allow the first fan-assisted referees (FAR) to remotely have a say in making key decisions.
19 towns and cities covered in 2019
Vodafone’s 5G network is now officially live in a total of seven cities, and will be live across 19 towns and cities across the UK by the end of 2019.
More info: www.vodafone.co.uk/5G