Vodafone and Ericsson have successfully completed the UK’s first 5G standalone (SA) network slicing trial.
Network slicing is a new service for business customers and application developers, enabled by the deployment of 5G Standalone (SA) networks. The service allows mobile operators to create multiple virtual network slices which operate across the same physical network. Each slice is isolated from other network traffic to give dedicated and guaranteed performance, with the features of the slice tailored to the use case requirements.
In a joint lab demonstration, the two technology teams worked together to create an on-demand 5G network slice that was configured, using a RAN slicing function, to provide the low latency and high bandwidth required for a virtual reality use case in a retail store. The slice guaranteed a download speed of 260Mbps and latency of 12.4 milliseconds.
The lab trial is the first of its kind for the mobile industry in the UK.
Each slice is isolated from other network traffic to give dedicated and guaranteed performance, with the features of the slice tailored to the use case requirements.
The process, from placing an order to creation of the network slice to carry live network traffic, took just 30 minutes. This demonstrates Vodafone and Ericsson’s ability to rapidly deliver automated and customised connectivity services as customers’ needs change.
A network slice can be customised to several different variables, including geographical location of slice (single office location to nationwide), download and upload speeds (minimum thresholds), latency (maximum threshold), capacity (device connection density in specific areas), and security (enhanced cybersecurity features).
New capabilities and services for customers may include secure communications for remote workers, high performing cloud-based and mobile gaming, enhanced safety in autonomous vehicles, and remote assistance for specialist procedures in hospitals and ambulances.
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Andrea Dona, Chief Network Officer, Vodafone UK, said: “Network slicing is an incredibly valuable step forward. By segmenting our network, and customising different slices for different requirements, we can bring to life new ideas that would be impossible otherwise. When we configure our network to empower new services, industries like gaming, entertainment and healthcare can enter a new era. What might seem like science fiction is one step closer thanks to network slicing.”
Andrea Spaccapietra, VP Digital Services, Ericsson UK & Ireland, said: “Network slicing will play a crucial role in enabling new and innovative 5G services for consumers and enterprises. With the tools to efficiently manage network resources and provide differentiated services with dedicated performance, leading network operators like Vodafone can enable new business model innovation and use cases across different sectors and unlock new revenue opportunities to realise the full potential of 5G.”