UK network Vodafone runs autonomous 5G trials in London, Manchester and Cardiff • The Register


Vodafone has launched 5G SA (standalone) trials in London, Manchester and Cardiff as part of its largest technology test to date.

The commercial launch has allowed the carrier to experiment with new ways of marketing its network, including network slicing – where part of the network is dedicated to a specific customer for its exclusive use. It will also allow customers to test 5G SA devices on a live public network.

Vodafone has selected Ericsson’s dual-mode 5G core network as a dedicated provider for this trial. It follows trials at Coventry University in 2020 and a separate trial in Spain.

To date, the overwhelming majority of 5G deployments in the UK have been 5G NSA (non-autonomous). This approach has seen 5G radios connected to a traditional LTE core. In contrast, 5G SA uses an appropriate 5G core. This comes with a few tangible benefits.

While the NSA’s approach in place has allowed operators to quickly expand coverage while limiting their capital expenditure, choosing a true end-to-end 5G environment means there are more options for actually market their investment.

And that’s because the introduction of 5G services has been costly, with operators spending a lot on equipment and spectrum. They cannot rely on consumer spending to recoup their spending.

5G SA offers measurable performance increases, especially with regard to latencies. While regular bettors can benefit (especially when it comes to things like real-time communications and online gaming), the biggest market will likely be industrial and business users, who will want to provide connectivity to the internet. low latency to their IoT devices.

And, as mentioned, 5G SA allows network slicing. It is an autonomous and separate part of the network which is rented by a specific tenant. A slice can be made up of dedicated radio, transport and base resources. By providing dedicated access, vendors can meet both the performance and security requirements of their business customers and are less likely to be affected by transient peaks in public demand.

Vodafone is not the only operator to consider a deployment of 5G SA. O2 and EE are both in the preliminary stages of their own deployments, both having selected Ericsson as their primary supplier. Additionally, O2 has announced plans to launch its first 5G SA deployment in Germany later this year.

Three is also expected to launch 5G SA services in the near future, having chosen Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) to configure and maintain its next network deployment. ®

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