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Vodafone accelerates 5G deployment in the UK thanks to Ericsson's single antenna technology

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  • New interleaved Ericsson antenna integrated radio (AIR 3218) to be deployed by Vodafone in the UK, bringing Massive MIMO for 5G mid-band while supporting low bands in a single compact antenna.
  • Combined radio and antenna in one single unit delivers increased 5G capacity and optimised site footprint, while accelerating deployment and lowering total cost of ownership (TCO).
Press release
Jul 18, 2023
Vodafone accelerates 5G deployment in the UK thanks to Ericsson's single antenna technology

Ericsson and Vodafone have begun the deployment of a compact active-passive antenna in the UK to bring greater 5G capacity, coverage and performance without adding to antenna footprint.

Ericsson’s Interleaved AIR 3218 combines an antenna-integrated radio and multiband passive antenna technology in one single enclosure, meaning additional high-performing 5G capacity can be added with no additional antenna footprint.

With accelerating 5G deployments, ever-increasing data traffic and subscriber growth, mobile networks require new levels of site flexibility, spectrum efficiency and energy savings. Using a single antenna footprint and Massive MIMO (massive multiple-input multiple-output) technology, Vodafone will leverage the larger bandwidth of mid-band spectrum to increase 5G capacity and deliver enhanced mobile broadband experiences. Combining the technologies into a single unit helps also improve network efficiency and reduces deployment complexity.  

The combination of radio and antenna in one single unit brings optimised modular form factor and easy rooftop, tower, wall and pole mounting – meaning that site upgrades and acquisitions will be simplified and 5G deployment accelerated in areas previously constrained by building regulations or planning law. AIR 3218 is forecast to be deployed across 50 sites within the Vodafone UK network in 2023, with a 30 per cent saving in site acquisition and build time expected.

Ker Anderson, Head of Radio and Performance, Vodafone UK, said: “5G is the UK’s digital future, but we should never underestimate how difficult it is to deliver a future-proofed network at scale across the length and breadth of the UK. Working in partnership with Ericsson, we are constantly exploring new ways to accelerate this transformation, and this is another example of where innovation is delivered through collaboration.” 

Evangelia Tzifa, Chief Technology Officer, Networks & Managed Services, for Ericsson UK and Ireland said: “This is a game changer for Vodafone and the UK deployment of 5G Massive MIMO. Together, we are increasing 5G capacity without growing visual antenna footprint on site. By being able to do more with less we are bringing the benefits of next-generation connectivity to more people in the UK, but also reducing any impact on the environment and continuing our journey to break the energy curve.”


  • The Interleaved AIR 3218 is powered by latest Ericsson Silicon technology enabling high performance and energy efficiency, amongst other benefits. Leveraging on the Interleaved AIR 3218 for 5G capacity increase provides more with less, contributing towards sustainability enhancements and the transmission of more gigabytes per watt of energy utilized (Gbytes/Watt) compared to 4G.
  • The Interleaved AIR also lowers the total antenna footprint on site, reducing the need for antenna reinforcements and reducing site rent expenses.
  • The Interleaved AIR 3218 utilizes beam-through technology where an arbitrary active antenna can be placed behind the passive antenna reducing the overall footprint in terms of size, weight and wind load. The key enabling technology for beam-through is frequency-selective surfaces tuned to serve as a reflector for the passive antenna, while being transparent for the underlying Massive MIMO radio.
  • To reduce the environmental impact, the growing data traffic needs to be managed with energy-efficient hardware, combined with the use of energy-saving network features to break the trend of increasing energy usage in mobile networks.
  • 30 per cent reduction in site acquisition and build time is calculated based on results from the first five sites where deployment has already been completed.