Vodafone UK moving services to SDN core in readiness for 5G launch in 2019 

20 September 2018 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Vodafone has launched its own converged core network across the UK, with 4,000 access nodes and 1,800 points of presence (PoPs).

The software-defined network (SDN), RedStream, has “a bigger Ethernet footprint” in the UK than BT, claimed Scott Petty, CTO of Vodafone UK, announcing the service at the company headquarters in Newbury today.

“It has 80 wavelengths of 100Gbps each,” he said, and “we are working to migrate all of our services”, including voice, data and internet of things (IoT). He said the company has already migrated 15 legacy services, will move another 20 this year “and the final 15 next year”.

RedStream will also carry Vodafone’s fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) service, avoiding BT’s last-mile subsidiary Openreach as much as possible. “We are using our own fibre for FTTH,” Nick Jeffery, CEO of Vodafone UK (pictured), told Capacity. Vodafone has a deal with independent fibre operator CityFibre. “It does not touch Openreach,” said Jeffery.

RedStream will carry Vodafone’s 5G service, which will launch next year, as well as its narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) service. “It will be used for our NB-IoT access to 5G in the UK a year from now,” said Anne Sheehan, director of Vodafone Enterprise in the UK. “We are starting trials with customers. The first is Scottish Power, which will use it in rural and tricky areas.”

The first city to go live with Vodafone’s 5G network will be Manchester, said Sheehan, and the company will set up a digital innovation hub in the Media City there.

“We plan to roll out more digital hubs across the UK.” Vodafone plans an initial seven cities for its 5G rollout.

Vodafone is coordinating 5G work across its worldwide network, said Petty, with each country choosing two companies from its range of three selected vendors – Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia. “We don’t use ZTE at all,” he added.