U.K. carrier Vodafone launched a commercial pilot of 5G Standalone service in London, Manchester and Cardiff, the company said in a release.
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.
Vodafone said that the commercial pilot has been made possible by the deployment of a cloud-native, dual-mode 5G core in partnership with Ericsson. As part of the deal, the Swedish vendor will support Vodafone’s entire cloud-native 5G core Standalone for packet core applications.
With these new deployments, as well as parallel investments in Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) and the Internet of Things (IoT), Vodafone said it will be able to work with business customers and developers to create new services for new use cases such as smart cities, Industry 4.0, and connected healthcare.
Andrea Donà, Vodafone’s chief network officer in the U.K., said: “Delivering 5G standalone for the U.K. 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,” the executive said.
According to Vodafone’s website, the operator has launched 5G in 100 U.K. markets and in an additional 193 markets around Europe. When the carrier first launched next-generation services in July of 2019, it did so in parts of Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Glasgow.
In related news, Vodafone Spain said it 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.
In Spain, Vodafone’s 5G NSA network is currently available in 25 large cities providing coverage to more than 50% of the population in each of them.
Vodafone’s 5G service is currently offered through spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band.
Vodafone launched Spain’s first commercial 5G network in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Malaga, Zaragoza, Bilbao, Vitoria, San Sebastian, La Coruna, Vigo, Gijon, Pamplona, Logrono and Santander in June 2019.