Vodafone makes the UK’s first holographic phone call over 5G

TrustedReviews was invited down to Vodafone UK’s Newbury headquarters to learn about the network’s forthcoming advancements, being present for the nation’s first holographic phone call using 5G technology.

Today Vodafone showed itself to be a company energised by the impending arrival of 5G and what that means for our connected world. To mark the occasion it staged the UK’s first holographic phone call between a budding young footballer and Steph Houghton, Manchester City and England captain, who’ll be leading the team during the 2019 World Cup in France.

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Let’s be clear, the holographic call itself wasn’t all that impressive, more of a glorified Skype call, but that’s not the point.

We were able to see a low-poly virtual representation of Steph displayed in 3D to the eyes of a Microsoft HoloLens wearer, but also as a scale video representation, seemingly standing on stage despite actually performing keepie-uppies from a studio near Manchester’s Media City − one of the seven sites Vodafone announced it would be trialling its 5G network technologies back in June (along with London, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow and Liverpool).

Vodafone UK's Anne Sheehan wearing a Microsoft HoloLens and talking with a hologram of Steph Houghton

Vodafone UK’s Anne Sheehan wearing a Microsoft HoloLens, talking with a hologram of Steph Houghton

The call, which was placed over a 5G test network, represented one of many potential uses for the technology, which will be made available to customers by the mid-point of 2019. Vodafone UK’s CTO, Scott Petty outlined the company’s 5G infrastructure, which focuses on speed, low latency and support for IoT devices.

Indeed, business users are already set to benefit from the company’s newly-established RedStream fibre network, which combines voice, data, optical and IoT technologies into a single platform. With the addition of 5G, Vodafone (and any carrier that uses the technology) will be able to massively increase scalability for the growing number of IoT devices out there.

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How 5G will benefit the average consumer is a little more straightforward. Along with faster mobile data speeds (once 5G-capable devices hit the market), Petty envisages low-latency live-streamed virtual reality content, better quality voice and video calling and improved reach for voice and data in hard-to-reach areas. Beyond the country’s big cities, part of the network’s 2019 5G roadmap includes bringing coverage to locations like Cornwall and the Lake District.

We’ve still got a bit of a wait before 5G becomes a fully-realised and accessible technology, but until then we’ve got holographic footballers to ruminate over.

Are you excited about 5G? Share your thoughts on Twitter @TrustedReviews.