By Ren Ke, Guo Qiuda
In cooperation with Chinese telecom giant Huawei, Vodafone Espana on Saturday rolled out the first commercial 5G mobile services in Spain, making it one of the first European countries with the ultrafast mobile network in Europe.
According to Vodafone Espana, the 5G mobile network covers 15 major Spanish cities including Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Seville. Around half of the residents in these cities will be able to enjoy the cutting-edge high-speed network service, which will be expanded in the future.
With 5G mobile phones, customers in Spain will experience download speeds of up to 1Gbps at launch and up to 2Gbps by the end of the year, which means it could be 10 times faster than that of the 4G network, said Vodafone.
The low latency network will be fundamental for some key technologies such as autonomous driving, telemedicine and virtual reality in the future.
The 5G data packages and smartphones are now available on the website of Vodafone Espana and will be available at its outlets on Monday. However, staff from a Vodafone outlet in Madrid said that there were already many customers consulting them about 5G plans, an indication of great interest in the brand-new services.
Vodafone has thus become the first operator to make 5G services available to Spanish customers, and the 5G Vodafone Espana is also the network that covers the most cities in Europe to date.
Two European countries, Britain and Switzerland, have already rolled out their first 5G mobile services lately. Britain's EE and the Swiss carrier Sunrise have both been equipped with Huawei gear and technology.
According to Huawei Spain, the company has prepared a lot for the launch and has cooperated with Vodafone as the core equipment supplier for the project. The two companies have had close cooperation for more than 10 years.
It is believed that the launch of 5G network in Spain will promote the transnational operator Vodafone to launch more 5G services in other countries. The company will commercialize 5G services to users in seven cities in Britain from July 3 this year, and the 5G roaming coverage in Britain, Italy, and Germany will be available this summer.
The launch of Huawei-engineered 5G network in Spain came as the United States has been pressuring its European allies to exclude Huawei from their 5G network construction on the groundless pretext of "security risk".
Despite this, Spain, Germany, Britain and the Netherlands, have decided not to bar Huawei from participating in the building of their 5G network. Germany said it already has a high standard for security regarding 5G network, while Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell declared earlier in March that the relations with Huawei are very important for Spanish telecom companies and Spain has no prejudice against anyone.
At the end of May, Jin Yong, chief executive officer of Huawei Spain, said most of Huawei's partners in Spain have decided to stand shoulder to shoulder with Huawei despite U.S. sanctions against the company, which will not impact on Huawei's 5G project in Spain.
Vodafone CEO Nick Read warned in February in Barcelona that banning Huawei from Europe's 5G networks would be harmful for operators and consumers, and might delay its rollout by "probably two years".
According to Huawei, the company has long-term partnerships with major mobile carriers in Spain and around Europe.
"We will continue to provide service to Spanish operators in their 5G projects. We will also improve our service so as to inspire and invite more small and mid-sized Spanish enterprises to make contributions to 5G applications," said Jin.