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Vodafone UK Pilot 5G Standalone in London, Manchester and Cardiff

Thursday, June 24th, 2021 (8:51 am) - Score 2,064
vodafone uk london 5g engineer

Mobile operator Vodafone has today confirmed that their first pilots of ultrafast 5G Standalone (SA) network technology, which is being supported by kit from Ericsson (here), have finally gone live in parts of London, Manchester and Cardiff. The move follows last year’s trial at Coventry University in summer 2020.

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.

At this point you might ask, what is 5G SA? At present, existing 5G deployments are actually using Non-Standalone (NSA) hardware and systems, which can still deliver impressive mobile broadband speeds but remain aided by existing 4G infrastructure. But by adopting a pure end-to-end 5G network (SA) you can benefit from improvements like ultra-low latency times (fast), network slicing capabilities and better support for Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

None of this means to say that 4G services won’t still exist (they have to in order to ensure seamless connectivity for all customers), it’s just that 5G SA connections are no longer dependent upon the previous generation of mobile technology. The commercial pilot is based on the deployment of a cloud-native dual-mode 5G Core in partnership with Ericsson.

Andrea Dona, Chief Network Officer at 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.”

Most existing Smartphones aren’t currently able to fully support the new 5G SA technology, but the first ones are expected to launch domestically “later this year“. We note that Vodafone Spain are also conducting a similar pre-commercial pilot alongside the UK, which is making use of smartphones manufactured by Samsung.

Leave a Comment
8 Responses
  1. Connor says:

    Is this purely a network test or can customers access the standalone network?

    Will be heading into Manchester for a few days for work so I’d be interested in picking up a Vodafone SIM if testing if that’s the case.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      I suspect it’s a closed pilot, but in any case you’d need a supporting Smartphone and I’m not sure if Vodafone would then have to approve that device before allowing it. I know that the Google Pixel 5, 4a 5G recently added 5G SA in other countries.

  2. James says:

    Fair play to Vodafone!

  3. Phil says:

    It’s shame the industry is so pushed on getting the next ‘better; version out to generate revenues that they don’t actually finish the specification or equipment before hand, then people might have handsets that will work with 5G SA now rather than having a phone that is shackled from the get go. It was the same situation with 4G and VoLTE with many handsets still in peoples hands that have to drop back to 3G in order to make a telephone call.

    1. James says:

      I think this is the correct way to go? It’s going to take time to deploy SA. 4G launched in 2012? and that took a good few years to mature.

      Fair few phones already have SA capability too. Galaxy S21 range, Xiamoi Mi 11, Pixel 5/4a 5G to name a few.

  4. Ig Og says:

    Xiaomi Mi 11 has both SA/NSA, anybody got one to try?

  5. Carl O says:

    I’d appreciate some NSA in Chester first

  6. RT says:

    Correct me if I am wrong, but are the S20/Note 20 series of phones not also 5g SA compatible?

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