How Vodafone plans to bring holographic conference calls to UK with 1,000 5G sites

The 5G sites will be up by 2020, bringing speeds that can power new business cases such as connected cars, factories, and cities.

Verizon sees 5G as game changer for public safety and transportation

Vodafone plans to implement 1,000 5G-enabled network sites in the UK by 2020, giving the region extremely fast connection speeds and eventually the ability to hold conference calls with holograms, according to a Reuters report.

The telecom will begin trialing 5G networks in seven British cities in the coming weeks, and plans to bring the technology to Cornwall and the Lake District national park--which do not have strong internet access currently--during 2019, Reuters reported.

Once commercially available, 5G is poised to revolutionize computing across a number of industries, including energy, manufacturing, and healthcare. The technology will be necessary to meet demands for faster connection speeds, capacity, and reliability, and has the potential to open up new business uses cases in connected cars, factories, and cities, Reuters noted.

SEE: Mobile device computing policy (Tech Pro Research)

While many telecoms including Verizon and AT&T have been trialing 5G network services in the US as well, consumers will not be able to make calls until 5G-enabled phones are on the market. The Motorola Moto Z3 phone, released in August, is the first phone on the market that will be able to upgrade to 5G. However, scale shipments of 5G-ready smartphones will likely come in the second half of 2019, Reuters reported.

One interesting use of the technology from a business standpoint could be for holographic calls and conferencing, Reuters noted. Vodafone demonstrated the use of 5G in a holographic call between England Women's soccer captain and a young fan: The fan was able to give a high five to the holographic captain, and see her skills demonstrated up close, though they were located hundreds of miles from each other, Reuters reported.

Holographic calls like this will be a "natural evolution" of video conferencing, according to Reuters, but it remains unknown how long it will take for this technology to become commonly available to frontline workers.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • Vodafone plans to roll out 1,000 5G-enabled network sites in the UK by 2020.
  • 5G will eventually be used for holographic conference calls.

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Image: iStockphoto/jamesteohart