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This Raspberry Pi device could let you create a private 5G network on the go

The device is only at the prototype phase right now.

Published onFebruary 20, 2023

Vodafone 5G box
  • Vodafone has created a prototype 5G network device.
  • The Raspberry Pi-powered device could allow small businesses and households to extend 5G coverage and increase capacity at a low cost.
  • The concept is small enough that users could take it on the go to create a mobile private network.

It may not be long before you’ll be able to take a trip somewhere and create your own private 5G network. A new prototype mini 5G device promises to make 5G affordable and portable.

At Mobile World Congress (MWC) later this month, Vodafone plans on showcasing a new concept device that’s about the size of a home Wi-Fi router. Powered by a single Raspberry Pi 4, with a 5G compatible software-defined radio (SDR) circuit board attached, the device could allow small businesses and households to extend or increase the capacity of 5G coverage at a low cost.

The initiative is part of Vodafone’s plans to make mobile private networks (MPNs) more accessible to small- and medium-sized businesses across Europe. Additionally, it will also be part of Vodafone’s push to provide this service to individuals.

If you’re unfamiliar with MPNs, they are mostly used by large corporations to create an alternative network separated from the available public mobile network. As a result, these companies can experience a faster and more secure network connection. The concept Vodafone has created would make it possible for smaller businesses and households to benefit from this same technology.

Due to the size of the device, it’s easy to carry around. Because of this portability, individuals could take this device with them and set up a secure network while at a coffee shop, library, or some other public space.

In addition to creating a separate network, the device can also be used to extend the network. So if there are dead areas in your household, you can use the device to improve connectivity where your router struggles to reach.

“Whilst this is just a prototype, it has the potential to bring new cloud, AI and big data technologies within reach of many of the small businesses we support across Europe,” said Santiago Tenorio, Vodafone’s director of network architecture.

MWC will be held in Barcelona, Spain starting on Monday, February 27.

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