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Vodafone UK Deploys Improved Standalone 5G Mobile Tech

Friday, July 3rd, 2020 (8:26 am) - Score 3,649
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Mobile operator Vodafone today claims to have become “the first UK operator” to showcase the next evolution of gigabit-capable 5G (mobile broadband) technology – “Standalone 5G” (SA), which includes support for improvements like ultra-low latency, “guaranteed speed performance” and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

At present most of the early commercial 5G based network deployments are using Non-Standalone (NSA) hardware and systems that don’t yet support all of the features that the new technology was designed to introduce (this is the downside of getting a head-start on most other countries). But it’s now a year since EE and Vodafone began their roll-outs and inevitably that means they’ll be starting to field more mature kit.

The first showcase for this has now been deployed at Coventry University, where the new Standalone 5G network technology is being used to trial a “state-of-the-art virtual reality learning technologies” to support training for student nurses and allied health professionals.

In simple terms, NSA 5G was focused on mobile broadband connectivity for faster internet speeds and this was aided by existing 4G infrastructure. By comparison SA 5G is the next logical step and reflects a completely new end-to-end 5G network (i.e. 4G services may still exist but SA is no longer dependent upon the existing network), which gives rise to the aforementioned performance improvements.

Scott Petty, Vodafone UK’s Chief Technology Officer, said:

“This is a landmark in our 5G journey, just one year on from launch. 5G today is all about capacity and increased speeds. It’s giving people the best mobile experience ever, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg of what 5G can do. With this new live network we’re demonstrating the future potential of 5G and how it will be so valuable to the UK economy.

This new phase of 5G starts to deliver on the incredible capabilities of 5G that have had so much attention, but haven’t yet been brought to life. From here, we will really start to see 5G make a difference to the way organisations think about being connected, and what’s possible with connectivity in the future.”

As part of this trial Vodafone has installed Ericsson’s 5G Radio Dot System (take note, it’s not Huawei kit) in the university’s Disruptive Media Learning Lab and National Transport Design Centre. The operator claims that this “indoor technology will deliver fast, high capacity 5G in key buildings to support its innovative teaching and learning.” MediaTek, OPPO and Qualcomm are also supporting their SA trial.

Mind you the performance of their 5G services will remain limited so long as they can only access a single small slice of the 3.4GHz band. Ofcom are due to auction off more radio spectrum by the end of this year, although legal threats and the COVID-19 crisis haven’t been kind to their schedule.

Vodafone’s SA 5G Summary

This next phase of 5G is totally independent from 4G, that’s why it’s called ‘Standalone’. It opens up far more possibilities to revolutionise how consumers and businesses will connect. Important technology features of the new network include:

• Network slicing – enabling mobile operators to offer customers dedicated portions of their network with guaranteed performance. This is important for the introduction of 5G into industries like manufacturing.

• Edge computing – bringing computing power closer to the customer, leading to much quicker network response times, which are vital for virtual and augmented reality technologies in the workplace.

• Ultra reliable, low latency communications – which will be a key part of bringing about efficiency benefits like full factory automation, and will enable mission critical services that could enhance the performance of autonomous vehicles.

Leave a Comment
7 Responses
  1. Avatar Chris says:

    It’s a shame it’s a small scale deployment – I hope we can get this across the whole 5G network sooner rather than later.
    Hopefully we’re not waiting much longer for 700mhz auction too – a low latency 5G coverage layer will be very nice to have

  2. Avatar Willard White says:

    shame they can’t be bothered to actually deploy 5G.
    Voda 5G is total unicorn stuff at the moment. I’ve got voda, i’ve got a 5G phone, and I almost never see a 5G signal because I don’t live in London.

    1. Avatar GMC says:

      Why would you really need 5g? I can’t say I understand this at all. It can seem like companies and fanatics in the public have become obsessed with speed status and I wonder very much if it’s for any purposes or status alone. What on earth do you do with a cell-phone that requires 5g? Mobile super-gaming as you sit in a cafe with slow wifi?

  3. Avatar Tim says:

    Still waiting for LTE-A…

    1. Avatar Buggerlugz says:

      Know the feeling. LT-A would be nice. It makes no difference if its “Stand-alone” or “stand with Huawei”, what matters is the spectrum available. OFCOM isn’t going to sell ANY carrier a broad enough spectrum to make ANY 5g a worthwhile venture in the UK.

    2. Avatar GMC says:

      Surely this is where the investment ought to have gone, into coverage for 4g. I’ve never really understood who needs split second PDF downloads on the go, instead of waiting 30 or 40 seconds. All this spending, the disruption of the physical environment and possible health effects – and are there really more than just a few people who would really notice a difference from this? Great for TV news crews in their vans – maybe they don’t need to bother with the satellite on the van roof much anymore. But beyond a few niche users, who is this technology really going to benefit, and when 4g coverage is still lacking?

      But even beyond 4g, the government should be stressing and investing in full wired broadband for the nation, and moving to a strategy of suggesting people don’t bother with mobile internet if they can help it. People do it because of advertising and the false sense that because it is possible and because you can show you can afford the status devices, you should do it.

      Unfortunately most people don’t use mobile Internet for work and merely for stuffing their faces in phones after they leave home. Once it meant something to go outside, to be out in the world. Now it may be approaching as meaningless as the photo sharing & video streaming going on in its domain.

  4. Avatar Buggerlugz says:

    Second question: Does it use CGNAT?

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