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Vodafone and Ericsson complete UK's first 5G network slicing trial

Network slicing allows businesses and app developers to carve out a ‘slice’ of the network suited to specific use cases

Vodafone and Ericsson have completed a successful lab trial of 5G network slicing – a first for the UK telecoms and technology industry.

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Enabled by Standalone 5G, network slicing is a new service aimed at businesses and app developers that involves carving out a ‘slice’ of the network to in order to cater it to specific use cases. This can be based on geographical location, download and upload speeds, latency, capacity, and even specific cyber security needs.

For instance, the trial successfully conducted by Vodafone and Ericsson involved creating and configuring an on-demand 5G network slice for a retail store that would have the enough bandwidth to support virtual reality (VR).

The slice, which took 30 minutes to complete, was able to deliver a guaranteed download speed of 260Mbps and latency of 12.4 milliseconds.

5G network slicing has the potential to enable a number of different 5G use case scenarios, ranging from automotive and healthcare to mobile gaming and smart cities.

In the case of the latter, 5G network slicing could be combined with IoT technology to deploy smart electricity sensors that can be adjusted by demand, or in order to track and manage emergency services in real-time. Due to the sensitive nature of the data, network slicing would enable a separate, more secure ‘slice’ of the network separate from the public internet.

Businesses could benefit from 5G network slicing by creating slices that would be tailored to individual teams based on their specific network demands, without sacrificing the quality of connectivity of one team in favour of another.

According to Ericsson UK & Ireland VP of digital services, Andrea Spaccapietra, the technology will play a crucial role in enabling new and innovative 5G services for consumers and enterprises alike. 

“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,” he said.

According to tech, media & telco analyst Paolo Pescatore, network slicing is "best-suited for enterprises and specific verticals" and "provides telcos with a significant means to help recoup the investment in 5G".

"For now, it seems unlikely that consumers will pay a premium for a superior experience," he told IT Pro.

The news comes less than two years after Vodafone delivered the UK’s first Standalone 5G network, with Coventry University becoming the first to use the new network as part of a new VR learning option for student nurses and allied health professionals.

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