News | 19 Jan 2023

UK first: 5G Standalone trial network switched on by Vodafone

Trial participants should be able to benefit from the increased reliability, better coverage and improved battery life made possible by 5G Standalone.

Vodafone has become the first UK mobile operator to switch on its 5G Standalone (5G SA) network, with select customers now able to trial its many benefits.

Eligible customers who opt into the trial will benefit from even better reliability, improved battery life and improved coverage.

Who can take part in the Vodafone 5G SA trial?

Selected customers in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol, Bath, Glasgow, and Birmingham – and who have Oppo Find X3/X5 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S21/S22 handsets on Unlimited Max plans – will be contacted by SMS to take part in the trial.


illustrative photo of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra in burgundy
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra – one of the phones eligible for the 5G Standalone trial

The trial comes at no extra cost to participating customers and they can opt out whenever they wish.

How is 5G SA different from the 5G we already have?

The 5G non-standalone network available today uses 5G radios, with the Core network continuing to use 4G-era technology. 5G Standalone, on the other hand, uses upgraded technology from top-to-bottom so it can offer even more in addition to the increased speeds that 5G non-standalone has already brought.

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What are the benefits of 5G SA?

The increased reliability and responsiveness of the 5G Standalone network will bring:

  • Improved smartphone battery life.
  • Smoother online gaming and video streaming experiences with minimised lag and buffering due to 5G Standalone’s low latency.
  • Enhanced coverage – the 5G Standalone trial goes further than what is being delivered by 5G networks today; the increase is the equivalent to the area over a million customers live in.
  • Significantly better 5G coverage indoors, thanks to the use of lower frequency radio waves.
  • Greater responsiveness and reliability in busy areas, as 5G Standalone is built to connect significantly more devices simultaneously.
  • Improved security due to more advanced end-to-end encryption and next-generation security software.

Vodafone will also trial network steering, a technology that allows the network to direct a device automatically towards the right connectivity (4G, 5G non-standalone or 5G Standalone), depending on what services are being used. Network steering will improve the efficiency of Vodafone’s network, providing a better experience for all customers.

What is in the future for 5G SA?

All of this is only the beginning. 5G Standalone’s low latency will enable even more immersive and interactive experiences, such as augmented and virtual reality, as well as use cases that rely on near-live data processing or reactions, such as self-driving vehicles or remote medical consultations and surgery.

Network slicing: Everything you need to know

Network slicing, a new way of delivering customised connectivity experiences, will be made possible by the introduction of 5G Standalone (5G SA). But what is it and why do we need it?

One of the key benefits of 5G Standalone is a capability called ‘network slicing’. Vodafone can use it to create distinct, discrete parts of the network, customised for different customers depending on their connectivity requirements.

For example, one slice could be reserved for the emergency services, prioritising reliability over everything else. In March 2022, Vodafone and Ericsson completed lab trials for network slicing.

When will 5G SA roll out across the UK?

To enable the roll-out of 5G Standalone to communities across the UK, not just the big cities, support is needed from the Government and the regulators.

Ofcom and the Government have helped to create a pro-investment environment for full fibre broadband networks, leading to the speed at which they are being made available today.

The same efforts should be replicated for mobile networks as they can act as a catalyst for economic growth across the UK – as much as £150bn worth of economic potential can be unlocked using 5G Standalone.

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