Vodafone launches standalone 5G network at Coventry University

David Murphy

Vodafone has launched a showcase “standalone” 5G network at Coventry University, in partnership with Ericsson, MediaTek, OPPO and Qualcomm. The university will use the network to trial state-of-the-art virtual reality learning technologies to support training for student nurses and allied health professionals, as part of its ambition to be the leading university for 5G-enabled technology.

To further support the university’s 5G ambitions, Vodafone has also installed Ericsson’s 5G Radio Dot System in the university’s Disruptive Media Learning Lab and National Transport Design Centre. The indoor technology will deliver fast, high-capacity 5G in key buildings.
Professor John Latham CBE, Coventry University Vice-Chancellor, said: “Being the first university in the UK to have this next phase of 5G technology is the first step on our journey to creating a 5G campus, and we will soon be able to reveal how we will use this technology to maximise the potential of virtual reality teaching for our Health and Life Sciences students.”

When a customer connects to 5G today, they are using a mix of 4G and 5G together. This is the first phase of 5G, and its main benefit is adding more capacity to the network, which means faster speeds and a more reliable connection. This next phase of 5G is totally independent from 4G, which is why it’s called “Standalone”. Vodafone said it opens up far more possibilities to revolutionise how consumers and businesses will connect.
Features include network slicing, which enables mobile operators to offer customers dedicated portions of their network with guaranteed performance. This is important for the introduction of 5G into industries such as manufacturing;

Edge computing brings computing power closer to the customer, leading to much quicker network response times, which are vital for virtual and augmented reality technologies in the workplace. 

Vodafone also promised ultra-reliable, low-latency communications, which will be a key part of bringing about efficiency benefits like full factory automation, and which will enable mission-critical services that could enhance the performance of autonomous vehicles.

“This is a landmark in our 5G journey, just one year on from launch,” said Vodafone UK Chief Technology Officer, Scott Petty. “5G today is all about capacity and increased speeds. It’s giving people the best mobile experience ever, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg of what 5G can do. With this new live network we’re demonstrating the future potential of 5G and how it will be so valuable to the UK economy.

“This new phase of 5G starts to deliver on the incredible capabilities of 5G that have had so much attention, but haven’t yet been brought to life. From here, we will really start to see 5G make a difference to the way organisations think about being connected, and what’s possible with connectivity in the future.”