Vodafone has switched on a new 5G network at Gatwick’s South Terminal, with the service set to be extended to the North Terminal by early next year.

The telecommunications firm said that travellers “can now experience the faster speeds and greater reliability of 5G”, following the installation of “a high speed, high capacity fibre optic network to carry 5G throughout the airport”.

While the number of customers travelling through Gatwick’s South Terminal with a 5G-enabled phone may be fairly low at present, the move future proofs the airport as take up of the technology grows.

Going forward it will also help Gatwick to support applications which require “instant communications”.

Vodafone highlights examples of this including “an upcoming trial of robotic parking and the further automation of a number of check-in and boarding procedures under Gatwick Airport’s five-year investment programme to create the UK’s leading ‘smart airport’”.

Commenting on the news Vodafone UK’s Chief Technology Officer Scott Petty said:

“We are delighted to support Gatwick Airport’s ambition to become one of the world’s leading smart airports with our investment in  5G.

“The installation of hundreds of kilometres of fibre at the airport will enable us to offer great coverage to the millions of people who use Gatwick Airport each year, as well as to connect its systems and vehicles on site.

“For example, by connecting mobility carts, airport staff will know where they are at all times, meaning they are better able to help passengers who need support.”