Vodafone has announced the launch of a commercial pilot of 5G Standalone services in London, Manchester and Cardiff, building on a trial with Coventry University.
Vodafone says this is the UK’s first live deployment to test 5G Standalone at scale.
The commercial pilot will focus on testing new capabilities being introduced as part of 5G standalone technologies, such as network slicing. It will also enable partners to test new Standalone-enabled devices on a live network. As part of the trial, a dedicated slice has already been configured for Coventry University to provide low-latency services to enable virtual reality distance learning.ture of applications such as smart motorways and the increased use of connectivity in vehicles
The commercial pilot has been possible by the deployment of a cloud-native dual-mode 5G Core in partnership with Ericsson, a critical milestone for Vodafone to deliver 5G Standalone connectivity services across the UK. As part of the deal, Ericsson will support Vodafone’s entire cloud-native 5G Core Standalone for packet core applications.
With these advantages, as well as parallel investments in Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) and the Internet of Things (IoT), Vodafone can work with business customers and developers to create new services for nascent use cases such as smart cities, Industry 4.0, and connected healthcare. These new technologies are designed to empower business customers and developers to develop novel services that would not be possible otherwise.
The lessons learned from these early deployments of 5G Standalone will inform Vodafone’s strategy moving forward. The commercial pilot is also a chance for partners to test new and existing devices, components and services on the live network.
Andrea Dona, Chief Network Officer, Vodafone UK, said: “Delivering 5G Standalone for the UK is an important step forward for our customers and our partners. The new features this delivers, such as new levels of reliability, latency and flexibility, are a gamechanger for customers and developers looking to create new applications. This leadership position greatly complements our investments in Multi-access edge compute (MEC) capabilities, the Internet of Things (IoT), Mobile Private Networks (MPN) and OpenRAN. When we bring all these technologies together, we open up entirely new possibilities for customers, and move beyond being a core connectivity provider to being a true digital champion.”
Vodafone Spain has deployed its own 5G Standalone core pre-commercial network, provided by Ericsson and accessible via smartphones manufactured by Samsung. Through this initiative, Vodafone Spain will rely on both partners to continue with the development of 5G use cases that improve multiple sectors of economic activity.