After launching the first local GPRS services in 2001, first 3G services in 2005 and first 4G mobile data network in 2012, as well as the first NB-IoT network in 2018, Vodafone is now pioneering 5G. Business Review talked to Catalin Buliga, technology director at Vodafone Romania, to hear the lowdown on the latest launch. Buliga joined the Vodafone team back in 1998, as network operations center (NOC) engineer. Following ten years at the first mobile digital network in Romania, he held various positions at Liberty Global. In 2015, Buliga returned to Vodafone, where since 2016 he has coordinated a team of hundreds of engineers who maintain the continuous development of the network.
By Aurel Dragan
Vodafone has announced the first 5G connection. What are the technical characteristics of this connection and what are its capabilities?
We have launched the Supernet 5G network, which is an upgrade to our Supernet 4.5G network. Currently, Supernet 5G is available in some busy areas of Bucharest, but we will extend 5G coverage in other parts of the capital as well as other major cities around the country. Our 5G radio cells operate in the 5G spectrum we have now (40MHz in the 3.5Ghz band) and offer a data endpoint rate of approximately 600Mbps and delays of 10-11ms.
The 5G phone used to launch the Supernet 5G network has the ability to simultaneously use both the 5G radio cell and our 4G radio cells, giving the end user a total data rate of 1Gbps (at the launch event, we achieved a speed of 955Mbps).
When will it be available to consumers?
The Supernet 5G network is already available to our customers. Users will need to purchase a 5G smartphone as soon as they are launched commercially in Romania, but Vodafone customers can already sign up on our website to be the first beneficiaries of these services. We expect 5G phones to be commercially available in Romania this summer.
What conditions must be met by the client to access the 5G network?
Any Vodafone customer who owns a 5G certified smartphone commercially available in Romania can enjoy the capabilities of the first 5G network in Romania, Supernet 5G .
How many 5G nodes do you intend to open by the end of the year?
The exact number of 5G radio cells that we intend to activate by the end of this year is confidential, but this year we set out to cover the busier areas of Bucharest and several other big cities in Romania. We will continue to develop Supernet 5G network coverage, but the rhythm of expansion and investment will depend on the degree of customer adoption of this technology and the cost of acquiring the additional 5G spectrum required.
Vodafone Romania, one of the major mobile operators, has launched the first 5G network, namely Supernet 5G. The connection is ready to give access to the latest technology and Vodafone customers will be the first to enjoy the capabilities of the network as soon as 5G handsets are available on the market. This move makes Vodafone Romania the first network in the country to provide Romanians with the latest global technologies. Vodafone continues its 22-year history in the country serving citizens, businesses and other social and economic actors. Through this launch, the operator continues its mission to connect for a better future enabling everyday a high-performance digital society for Rcatomania. The company is committed to contributing fully to Romania’s digital strategy in an era of interconnected people and devices, where trust is as important as speed. Vodafone will continue to consolidate its network leadership and to remain the partner of choice for the entire Romanian society and economy when it comes to innovation and cutting-edge technologies for a better connected future.