88% of gamers in the trial ranked 5G SA cloud gaming experience at least 8/10, compared to 13% on non-optimised connectivity experience.
- Vodafone and Ericsson demonstration of 5G Standalone technology with consumers at Coventry University.
- 88% ranked 5G Standalone cloud gaming experience at least 8/10, compared to 13% on non-optimised connectivity experience.
- The trial showed that an optimised 5G Standalone network connection materially enhanced the cloud gaming experience on mobile, similar to what would be expected at home on broadband with increased speeds, more reliable cloud connection, lower latency, more consistent jitter, and smoother graphics rendering.
Vodafone and Ericsson have completed a live network trial at Coventry University which successfully demonstrated the positive impact an optimised 5G Standalone network slice could have on enhancing the mobile cloud gaming experience for consumers.
Mobile, desktop and console gaming have become increasingly dominated by the cloud in recent years, but those platforms offer quite diverse types of content. Mobile gaming can be comparatively less immersive as today’s wireless connectivity services would struggle to deliver the desired experience for more complex content.
Using network slicing, a new technology that would allow Vodafone to customise connectivity services for specific customers and use cases, the trial participants were able to experience more consistent gaming connectivity with a 270% increase in download and upload performance, a 25% decrease in latency and 57% less jitter, as well as smoother graphics rendering.
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Andrea Dona, Chief Network Officer, Vodafone UK, said: “5G Standalone is not an upgrade on 4G, but an entirely new type of technology. Through this trial, we provided a slice of connectivity, customised specifically for gaming, to provide a full fibre like experience over the airwaves. This is the value of network slicing – a more personalised connectivity service to make digital more in-tune with each customer.”
During the trial, participants were asked to play cloud-based games on smartphones under two connectivity scenarios.
- Scenario A simulated the public network we connect to every day.
- Scenario B was an isolated 5G Standalone network slice that was optimised for cloud gaming. Scenario B’s network had higher download speeds, lower latency, reduced jitter, and no risk of network congestion.
Research conducted by Bryter, an independent gaming insights and consultancy agency, confirmed the success of the trial:
- For Scenario A, 63% of triallists ranked satisfaction between 0/10 and 5/10, with only 13% ranking satisfaction above 8/10. Frustrations included longer loading times, non-synchronised sound, and visuals, and increased lag.
- For Scenario B, 88% of triallists ranked satisfaction above 8/10. The better gaming experience was due to improved game loading (appealing to those who use gaming to pass time), smoother graphics rendering and reduced lag and jitter (appealing to those who prefer fast-paced games).
Focus groups following the trial suggested mobile gaming enthusiasts would be highly interested in the 5G Standalone gaming experience as the benefits of faster loading and reduced lag/jitter would give them an advantage over other players.
Phil Patel, Group Director of Product and Services, Vodafone, said: “5G Standalone aims to deliver novel services that would not be possible on today’s networks. Few areas can benefit as much as cloud gaming, not only to improve customer experience, but to open the door to entirely new types of content. Today, immersive gaming is realistically limited to consoles and desktops, but with 5G Standalone, we can bring it to mobile devices.”
The trial demonstrates the importance of 5G Standalone and network slicing to deliver new 5G use cases and experiences, beyond what would be possible on a legacy network. To deliver 5G Standalone at scale, Vodafone UK and Three UK are proposing a merged company that would have the capability to invest £11 billion in network upgrades over the next decade, taking 5G Standalone to 99% of populated areas by 2034.
Network slicing is a new service for business customers and application developers, enabled by the deployment of 5G Standalone. The service allows for multiple virtual network slices across the same physical network. Each slice is isolated from other network traffic to give dedicated performance, with the features of the slice tailored to the use case requirements.
Blessing Makumbe, VP & Head of Digital Services, Ericsson UK & Ireland, said: “A mobile network powered by 5G standalone technology, and offering associated services like network slicing, is the ultimate next step in meeting connectivity demands from consumers and businesses. Creating tailored network quality with requirements on speed, latency and reliability not only offers the premium performance needed to satisfy the applications and services of the future, but also gives leading operators like Vodafone the opportunity to offer innovative services to enter new markets and expand their business.”
By enabling more customisable connectivity, customers will soon be able to access a wider range of services. Some of these new services will be business-orientated (e.g., secure communications for remote workers), for consumers (e.g., cloud and mobile gaming) and for public services (e.g., remote assistance for specialist procedures in hospitals/ambulances). According to Ericsson’s network slicing report, is it estimated that 25-30% of the potential 5G use cases will need slicing as an enabler.
Notes to Editors
How did the trial work?
Vodafone and Ericsson brought together gamers at Coventry University to showcase how 5G Standalone can offer an enhanced experience for cloud-based gaming content.
The trial featured 15 gamers of varying degrees of experience (from first time mobile gamers to enthusiasts) and a broad age demographic (18–65 years old).
Trialists were asked to play games of their choice on a cloud gaming service under the different connectivity scenarios (one replicated performance of the public network and the second was optimised for cloud gaming) and provide both qualitive and quantitative feedback.
What is 5G Standalone and why is it different to 5G services today?
5G Standalone is the fully upgraded version of 5G connectivity. It offers significant benefits over 4G networks and allows companies to create new services that would have previously been impossible.
The 5G service which has been available since 2019 is known as 5G Non-standalone. This is because some of the network has been upgraded, but other parts still rely on 4G infrastructure. With 5G Non-standalone, you can get some benefits, such as increased download speeds, but this is only a fraction of what 5G Standalone can deliver.
In the short-term, Vodafone 5G Standalone network will offer the following benefits:
- Up to 25% longer battery life thanks to a new power saving feature of 5G Standalone known as Bandwidth Part (BWP).
- The ability to have a better connectivity service in busy areas. Whereas 4G may have experienced buffering and lag in busy areas, 5G Standalone makes much more efficient use of the radio airwaves that connect our devices to the network, so significant numbers of people can connect to the network at the same time.
- Vodafone’s 5G network coverage is expanding, with one million more people able to connect to the 5G network.
- 5G Standalone is a much more reliable service than 4G and 5G Non-standalone because it makes use of the latest available technology and techniques to deliver services.
In the future, Vodafone’s 5G Standalone network will:
- Offer dramatically faster upload and download speeds.
- Introduce low latency capabilities, which will dramatically improve buffering and lag when connecting to the network. Latency is the time it takes for devices to connect to the cloud and react to commands. This is only fractions of a second, but the lower the latency the better the service. This is important for applications such as augmented and virtual reality (where even a fraction of a second delay could cause motion sickness), gaming services (milliseconds count in real-time player-versus-player applications) and autonomous operations (such as robotics and self-operating vehicles).
- 5G Standalone also enables new concepts such as network slicing.
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What is network slicing?
Network slicing is a novel approach to managing quality of service on telecommunications network infrastructure. By creating multiple virtual networks that sit on a single physical network, telecommunications operators can create different network experiences by defining the variable characteristics of each slice.
In practise, a certain percentage of the available spectrum is dedicated to creating numerous slices, while the rest is available for typical use as it always has been. As 5G connectivity is more efficient than 4G (i.e., greater spectral efficiency means improved bandwidth and capacity – more data can be transmitted at a faster rate), the general public will not see any impact on the performance of the network for their devices.
Why has network slicing not been available before?
Network slicing has not necessarily been needed to date. 4G networks provide a connectivity service which can deliver the desired experience for most applications that are available to business and consumer customers today. However, as more services are digitised, new use cases emerge and more “things” are connected to the network, telecommunications operators must manage networks in new ways.
Network slicing is only available on 5G Standalone networks. A 5G Standalone network is one which does not rely on any 4G network infrastructure, including the core network.
What sort of network characteristics can be defined on a network slice?
- Throughput: a minimum/maximum threshold for download/upload speeds
- Latency: a minimum/maximum threshold for Round Trip Time (the time it takes for an application to react)
- Security: additional security requirements can be applied to a network slice
- Capacity: for increased device density – this is more applicable to massive machine-type Internet of Things
What does latency mean?
Latency refers to the time it takes for an application to react. When using an application on a device, the application must send signals to the server in a data centre. This Round-Trip Time (RTT) is known as latency.
The RTT is defined by several distinct factors, such as how far the data centre is from the device (geographical location) as well as the efficiency of the communication between the device and the base station. For the latter, 5G Standalone is significantly more efficient than 5G Non-standalone and 4G.