Vodafone celebrates first year of 5G by introducing the next stage of network development

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A year on from the switch-on of Vodafone’s 5G network, the carrier is now showcasing its first standalone 5G network at Coventry University.

A standalone 5G network is exactly as it sounds; a network that stands alone from other network technologies.

The current 5G networks in the UK work as non-standalone 5G (NSA) which means 5G sits as a layer on top of an existing technology. With a combination of bands, this can offer incredible network speeds – but also has various drawbacks like higher latency.

5G can currently be served from a different site to that providing your existing service and cover a wider area, which can also result in fluctuations of speed.

In addition, 5G cannot currently carry voice telephony – in much the same way that 4G initially couldn’t, before the introduction of VoLTE (Voice over LTE, or more commonly referred to by networks as ‘4G calling’.

This advance towards standalone 5G by Vodafone is significant and begins a move towards offering 5G as a standalone network nationally in the coming years, although initially you can expect the technology to be used more for industrial purposes (‘Industry 4.0’) where low latency is most vital.

“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.”

Scott Petty, Vodafone UK Chief Technology Officer

Coventry University will use the new 5G network to try out new virtual reality learning technologies, aiding student nurses and allied health professionals. It seeks to become a leading university for 5G-enabled technology.

“We are delighted to be working with Vodafone to house the UK’s first standalone 5G network. This will help us continue to change and enhance the way students learn.

“Being the first university in the UK to have this next phase of 5G technology is the first step on our journey to creating a 5G campus, and we will soon be able to reveal how we will use this technology to maximise the potential of virtual reality teaching for our Health and Life Sciences students.” “

Professor John Latham CBE, Coventry University Vice-Chancellor

Vodafone has installed Ericsson’s 5G Radio Dot System in the Disruptive Media Learning Lab and National Transport Design Centre of the university. The indoor technology will deliver fast, high-capacity 5G, to key buildings.

Find X2 Pro being used on Vodafone’s standalone 5G network

In addition to Ericsson, Vodafone has also worked with MediaTek, Oppo and Qualcomm. In the case of the latter two, Qualcomm updated an existing commercially available device, the Oppo Find X2 Pro, to enable it to work on Vodafone’s standalone network.

The Oppo Find X2 features Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 865 SoC with X55 modem that supports both SA and NSA modes of 5G, as well as key 5G Pathway technologies like Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS).

Eventually, standalone 5G will bring many benefits to consumers like:

  • Network Slicing: Reserving a portion of the network guarantee a specific performance, particularly essential to industry.
  • Edge Computing: Bringing computing power closer to the customer, reducing network response times vital for services like VR and AR.
  • Ultra Reliable, Low Latency Communications (URLLC): Vital for industry, such as factory automation, as well as the performance of autonomous vehicles.

Vodafone’s 5G network now works in 70 locations around Europe, and the network is still the only UK operator to offer 5G roaming abroad.

One year ago, on 3 July 2019, Vodafone switched on 5G in seven UK cities. Since launch, Vodafone has added 5G to 37 more places in the UK and massively expanded coverage in launch cities. Vodafone has also built 5G in 70 locations across Ireland, Italy, Germany and Spain, and is the only UK operator to offer 5G access when customers are roaming abroad.

More info: www.vodafone.co.uk/5G

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