Vodafone and Ericsson create first-ever UK 5G network slice

Vodafone and Ericsson have completed the first trial of an on-demand 5G network slice in the UK, paving the way for automated virtual networks that can be created within 30 seconds.

Network slicing is seen as one of the main use cases for standalone 5G (SA 5G) networks and will effectively allow operators to section off certain parts of the network for certain applications.

Slices can be customised to guarantee a certain speed or latency, and to cover a particular location, enabling industrial, broadcast, healthcare, and public service use cases. For example, one network slice could carry video traffic at a stadium, while another slice is reserved for safety officials.

Vodafone Ericsson 5G slice

Although slicing is possible with LTE, the ultrafast speeds, greater capacity, and ultralow latency of 5G will support more advanced applications, while the software-defined and cloud-based core layer of the networks will enable the flexibility and automation required to provision and manage any number of slices.

In this latest trial, Vodafone and Ericsson configured an on-demand slice offering a guaranteed download speed of 260Mbps and 12.4ms latency to support a virtual reality (VR) application at a retailer.

The partners said the time taken from ordering the slice to provision took just 30 seconds.

“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,” said Andrea Dona, chief network officer at Vodafone UK.

“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.”

“Network slicing will play a crucial role in enabling new and innovative 5G services for consumers and enterprises,” added Andrea Spaccapietra, VP Digital Services, Ericsson UK & Ireland.

“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.”

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