Vodafone and Ericsson create UK’s first on-demand 5G network slice
Vodafone and Ericsson have completed the UK’s first 5G standalone (SA) network slicing trial.
Network slicing refers to a new service for business customers and application customers that allows operators to create multiple virtual network slices which operate across the same physical network.
The service is enabled by the deployment of 5G SA networks, and each slice is isolated from other network traffic for greater performance benefits with the features of the slice tailored to use case requirements.
The two technology teams from Vodafone and Ericsson showcased an on-demand 5G network slice in a joint lab demonstration using a RAN slicing function to provide low latency and high bandwidth for a virtual reality use case in a retail store.
This trial is an important step towards the broader provision of 5G network slicing, according to Matthew O'Neil, head of networks at NTT Data UK.
"[Network slicing] will transform the UK's network capabilities, supporting new and innovative use cases, and facilitating digital transformation across various industries," he added.
“This is a big step forward for carriers, as network slicing reduces the cost of constructing multiple private networks while enabling them to provide highly flexible services which can be allocated on demand, based on service requirements.
"This improves the network value as well as the monetisation capability of carriers."
The slice created a guaranteed download speed of 260Mbps and a latency of 12.4 milliseconds and is the first lab trial of its kind for the mobile industry in the UK.
Andrea Spaccapietra, VP for digital services for Ericsson UK and 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 realize the full potential of 5G.”
The process, from placing an order to creation of the network slice to carry live network traffic took 30 minutes.
This, the companies say, demonstrates the ability to rapidly deliver automated and customised connectivity services as customers’ needs change.
A network slice can be customised to be several different variables, including geographical location of slice download and upload speeds, latency, capacity and security.
New services it can provide could include secure communications for remote workers, high performing and cloud-based mobile gaming and remote assistance for specialist procedures in hospitals and ambulances.
“Network slicing is an incredibly valuable step forward,” Andrea Dona, chief network officer at Vodafone UK said.
“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.”