Vodafone 5G in the UK is off to a rough start, with speeds often slower than 4G

CNET | 9/7/2019 | Andrew Hoyle
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I tested Vodafone's network using this Galaxy S10 Plus 5G.

Britain's 5G race is heating up following the launch of Vodafone's 5G service in multiple cities across the country. The company is hot on the heels of EE, the UK's largest carrier, which launched its own 5G service last month. To see how Vodafone's new network compares, I headed out to test it at locations across London and Manchester.


TL;DR: It's not good.

With speeds often slower than 4G, and huge disparities in results from multiple test handsets, I can only describe Vodafone's current 5G offering as an inconsistent mess.

Manchester - EE - Coverage - City - Vodafone

It started poorly in Manchester where, much like EE's coverage of the great northern city, Vodafone's network is patchy. A quick look at Vodafone's coverage map shows that most of the center of the city isn't covered by 5G, including the popular Northern Quarter and the main shopping center.

The main coverage hotspots are scattered across various suburbs surrounding the city center, which is surprising given that the potential high speed and, more importantly, the high capacity of 5G means the network would be more beneficial in the high traffic areas of city centers. Still, a few Uber rides later and I was able to get around to my various testing locations.

Speeds - Manchester - O2 - Apollo - Music

5G speeds were worryingly poor outside Manchester's O2 Apollo music venue.

First, a note on my testing. For 5G, I used a Galaxy S10 Plus 5G, with a Vodafone 5G SIM. To compare it to 4G speeds, I used a regular Galaxy S10 Plus with a Vodafone 4G SIM. I ran at least three tests in each location using Ookla's Speedtest app. The scores below are an average of each set.

Location - O2 - Apollo - Music - Venue

My first location was the O2 Apollo music venue at the postcode M12 6AP (this is the UK's equivalent of ZIP...
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