Press Release | 21 Apr 2023

Vodafone and Coventry University launch UK’s first 5G SA Media Innovation Lab

Broadcasters and media companies can work with Vodafone and Coventry University experts at the lab to develop new use cases based on the high bandwidth and low latency capabilities of 5G, as well as explore the benefits of new services such as network slicing.

  • Vodafone and Coventry University have collaborated to develop the UK’s first 5G Standalone (5G SA) Media Innovation Lab in Coventry.
  • Open lab for broadcasters and media companies to work with Vodafone and Coventry University experts to develop new use cases based on the high bandwidth and low latency capabilities of 5G, as well as explore the benefits of new services such as network slicing.
  • Vodafone and Coventry University deployed the UK’s first live 5G SA network in 2020 to enable healthcare students to take immersive AR and VR tours of the human body.

Vodafone and Coventry University have collaborated to open the UK’s first 5G Standalone (5G SA) Media Innovation Lab in Coventry. Broadcasters and other media companies, as well as the software development community, will be invited to the lab to develop 5G use cases for the media industry, working alongside Vodafone engineers and Coventry University academics.

The next generation connectivity environment will be powered by a 5G SA network. Originally deployed in 2020 to enable healthcare students to take immersive, real-time AR and VR tours of the human body, Vodafone and Coventry University will now expand the remit of the 5G SA network to support digital transformation and 5G adoption within the media industry.

5G Standalone: Unlocking the true power of digital 

Andrea Dona, Vodafone's UK Chief Network Officer, explains the thinking behind Vodafone's 5G Standalone trial - testing a new technology that promises much higher speeds, lower latency, with better reliability and security.

The 5G Standalone environment will offer lightning-fast download speeds, near-real time latency capabilities, and network slicing. The lab will support proof of concepts, as well as allow development and testing of end-to-end solutions in a safe and configurable environment.

Network slicing is a new capability enabled by 5G Standalone to allow telecoms operators to create separate and isolated networks for different use cases. Each slice can be configured differently. As they are isolated from each other, the performance on one would not impact another.

In the broadcasting industry, this is an exciting development for two reasons. Firstly, a minimum upload speed threshold can be set to guarantee that content is uploaded quickly and reliably for live streaming. Secondly, it removes the risk of network congestion impacting performance. This is particularly relevant for mass events such as sports, demonstrations or festivals, as well as for live content contribution in isolated locations.

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?

Danny Kelly, Head of Innovation at Vodafone Business UK said: “This is another UK-first brought by Vodafone as we continue to explore the myriad powerful benefits of 5GSA, helping the UK to become a leader in this new technology.

“Finding 5GSA uses for the media makes perfect sense as the technology is well suited to this sector. It enables faster speeds, less latency (buffering) and is more reliable and secure. This makes it ideal for media – who create digitally dense content at high volume. Especially in isolated locations or at large scale events where the public network is crowded.

“We look forward to working with Coventry University and different media over the coming months to test and explore the different innovative uses for 5GSA.”

Professor John Latham CBE, Coventry University Vice Chancellor, said: “We are delighted that we have been able to extend our collaboration with Vodafone following the development of the standalone 5G network that has been so successfully used by our healthcare students.

“This new project will expand our work with Vodafone into the media arena and we are excited to see how our experts can work with the broadcasting industry on how this technology can be put to use.”

5G Standalone takes virtual reality teaching to the next level

Lecturers at Coventry University will be teaching seminars using virtual reality powered by 5G this year, giving students access to interactive remote learning for the first time.

Ericsson research suggests 25% of 5G use cases will require network slicing to work reliably and securely. This new service will prove to be a catalyst for innovation in all industries, as it enables Vodafone to configure the connectivity experience to best-suit the use case. This has not been possible to date and will support the growth of specialised 5G services across all industries.

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Notes to editors

What is the difference between 5G Standalone and 5G Non-standalone?

5G Non-standalone is when 5G radios sit on an existing 4G network. It offers speed upgrades, but is still limited in performance by the underlying 4G infrastructure.

5G Standalone is an end-to-end 5G solution, from the core to the radio units. This upgraded infrastructure allows telecoms operators to realise the benefits of 5G which have been spoken about at length for many years, such as low latency capabilities, for example, as well as introducing new services such as network slicing.

A basic guide to Vodafone UK’s network

Vodafone UK's high-speed network is state-of-the-art, the result of billions in investment over the last five years. But how do all the parts fit together?

What is latency?

By installing specialist servers either with Vodafone or at customer facilities, applications are able to respond to commands significantly faster. This time that applications take to respond, known as latency, is a barrier for next-generation innovations that require almost instantaneous reactions, or are powered by artificial intelligence. When combined with 5G, latency could be reduced to speeds faster than those at which the human brain processes information. 

What is network slicing?

Network slicing is a service made possible by deploying a 5G Core in the network.

In short, network slicing capabilities allow telecoms operators to create virtual network slices. These network slices are contained and isolated network environments, allowing telecoms operators to customise its performance parameters for customers.

In practice, a certain percentage of the available spectrum is dedicated to creating numerous slices, while the rest is available for general use as it always has been. As 5G connectivity is more efficient than 4G (greater spectral efficiency means improved bandwidth and capacity, so more data can be transmitted at a faster rate), the general public won’t see any impact on network performance when using their devices.

What other network slicing use cases are there?

  • Mobile gaming: Today’s real-time multiplayer games require low-latency performance to guarantee a high-quality experience. A maximum threshold for latency and jitter can be applied to specialised network slices to ensure the gaming applications react in near-real time.
  • Upgraded performance for short periods of time: customers could “upgrade” performance for a short period of time. For example, increased download speeds to download video content ahead of a plane trip.
  • In-venue experience: Connectivity for customers at entertainment venues can be a frustrating experience because of the high concentration of people in a small area. However, as demand at these venues is not 24/7, it could make more commercial sense to deploy a high-bandwidth and high-capacity network slice to ensure customers at mass attendance events have suitable connectivity coverage.
  • Automotive: For self-driving or remotely operated vehicles, enhanced and ultra-reliable connectivity is critical for both performance and safety. Specialised network slices could enable tele-operated/self-driving vehicles and real-time situational awareness. Network slicing also guarantees a certain level of Quality of Service to meet specific security needs that might be a regulatory requirement.
  • Healthcare: Use cases include remote assessment of potentially life-threatening conditions through video where a low-latency slice could be critical for video performance, as well as using robotics for rehabilitation with real-time control.
  • Smart city (public safety): Use cases include real-time smart surveillance, massive mission critical IoT (such as connectivity for electricity grid substations) and real-time location information for emergency services. As each of these use cases could impact the safety of the general public, it would be advantageous to have a specialised network slice, rather than using the public internet (a homogenous connectivity experience).
  • Smart city (massive IoT): Deploy new, low-energy and cost-effective sensors at scale (smart electricity sensors for example), with network capacity adjusted to meet demand.

About Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK is a technology communications company that connects people, businesses and devices to help our customers benefit from digital innovation. Our services span mobile, fixed-line connections, home and office broadband, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

We have a strong track record as a tech pioneer, making the UK’s first mobile phone call, sending the first text message, and making the UK’s first live holographic call using 5G in 2018. We were the first to start carrying live 5G traffic from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester and now have 5G in locations across Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain as well as the UK. Meanwhile, our 4G network coverage currently reaches over 99% of the UK population.

Today, Vodafone serves more than 18 million mobile and fixed-line customers in the UK. Vodafone is the largest provider of full fibre in the UK – our superfast broadband services are now available to nearly 12 million homes across the UK.

Sustainability is also at the heart of what we do: as of 1 July 2021, 100% of the grid electricity we use in the UK is certified to be from renewable sources.

For more information about Vodafone UK, please visit:

Vodafone UK Media Relations

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