Vodafone launches commercial 5G standalone IoT pilots

Vodafone launches commercial 5G standalone IoT pilots

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Vodafone has launched of a commercial pilot of 5G Standalone services which will allow low latency, low power connections for the Internet of Things.  

The pilots in London, Manchester and Cardiff build on a trial with Coventry University. 5G SA does not rely on underlying 4G technology and so can use new approaches such as end-to-end network slicing. 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.

Vodafone was the first network in the UK to trial 5G Standalone, and this is the UK’s first live deployment to test 5G Standalone at scale. The company is also deploying a 5G SA network in Madrid. The interface was approved in November last year.

The 5G SA equipment from Ericsson in the pilots allows a fully virtualised, cloud-native architecture, which will allow Vodafone to more quickly develop and introduce new services for customers. As part of the deal, Ericsson will support Vodafone’s entire cloud-native 5G Core Standalone for packet core applications.

With parallel investments in Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) and the Internet of Things (IoT), Vodafone sees this as a key step for smart cities, Industry 4.0, and connected healthcare.

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.

“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,” said Andrea Dona, Chief Network Officer, Vodafone UK. “This 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.

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