Ericsson and Vodafone have successfully completed the U.K.’s first 5G standalone (SA) network slicing trial in a joint lab demonstration to create on-demand 5G connectivity and dedicated performance for consumer and business customers.

The lab trial, which is the first of its kind for a communications service provider in the U.K., demonstrated an on-demand premium 5G network slice using Ericsson’s 5G Standalone containerized core architecture and end-to-end automated orchestrated solution, including 5G RAN slicing. The network slice was configured to provide the low latency and high bandwidth experience required for a virtual reality use case.

The process from placing an order to creation of the network slice to carry live network traffic took just 30 minutes, demonstrating the ability for CSPs to deliver new services with faster time to market for automated and customized connectivity.

Andrea Dona, chief network officer, Vodafone U.K., said, “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. 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.”

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

Network slicing is a new service for business customers and application developers, enabled by the deployment of 5G Standalone networks. The service allows CSPs to create multiple virtual network slices which operate across the same physical network. Each slice is isolated from other network traffic to give dedicated performance and eliminate the risk of network congestion, with the features of the slice tailored to the use case requirements.

By enabling on-demand 5G connectivity and dedicated performance, consumers and enterprises will be able to access a wider range of services and innovative applications that would otherwise not be possible, such as video-assisted remote operations, augmented/virtual reality, enhanced event experiences, cloud gaming, smart cities and applications for Industry 4.0 and public safety.