Vodafone launches standalone 5G private network

  • May 9, 2023
  • William Payne

Vodafone has incorporated a 5G standalone private network into the company’s Mobile Private Network (MPN) offering. The company becomes the first telecoms operator in the UK to standardise a 5G standalone MPN product. The new standalone 5G network is designed to be easily paired with a Multi-access Edge Compute solution.

Vodafone has already deployed several MPNs across the UK. These include Horiba Mira in Nuneaton, Warwickshire; Ford’s E:PRIME factory in Dunton, Essex; Scotland 5G Centre’s innovation hubs in Aberdeen and Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire; the Smart Sound Connect centre in Plymouth, Devon; and Centrica’s natural gas plant in Easington, Yorkshire.

Horiba Mira’s test track in Nuneaton, Warwickshire has a secure 5G Non-standalone-enabled MPN that covers two autonomous vehicles testing tracks, with five outdoor masts and on-site MEC.

Ford’s E:PRIME factory in Dunton, Essex incorporates a Vodafone 5G network to power autonomous operations and ensure real-time analysis by using AI software to visually inspect automated production lines for electronic vehicle motors and batteries. This deployment has won multiple industry awards including 5G Week and the GLOTEL awards.

Scotland 5G Centre’s innovation hubs in Aberdeen and Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire are two 5G MPN sites that act as testbeds to develop advanced use cases for segments that include energy and smart cities.

The Smart Sound Connect in Plymouth, Devon is the worlds’ first marine-focused 5G testbed, powered by a 5G non-standalone MPN to deliver use cases such as driverless boats, connected buoys, clean propulsion, smart ports and shipping, as well as environmental monitoring.

Centrica’s natural gas plant in Easington, Yorkshire has a 4G MPN to enable real-time indoor and outdoor monitoring of the plant and its equipment, improving maintenance and safety. Workers will be alerted to any gas emissions, for example, and receive early warnings of any equipment on the point of failure.

Vodafone’s MPN offering includes indoor and outdoor Radio Access Network (RAN) infrastructure (the mobile sites that connect devices to the network) for private connectivity. 5G non-standalone and 5G standalone connectivity, depending on use case requirements. The offering also includes on-site network core infrastructure or access to Vodafone’s core network, including ability to integrate and utilise Vodafone’s Multi-access Edge Compute (MEC) solutions.

If required, a Vodafone MPN can also be connected to Vodafone’s wider public network. The solution provides a management platform to visualise data across the network and connected applications, optimise and reconfigure network operations and parameters, provision new services and automate functions, applications and operations.

The solution provides enhanced cyber security, with customer sites being managed by the same cyber security team that protects Vodafone’s wider network operations. Also included are on-going managed services, including 24/7 helpdesk, data insight and analysis, real-time monitoring and early warning intelligence as well upgrades and maintenance advice and support; and support to develop use cases and integrate enabling technologies, such as cloud services and Internet of Things solutions.

To develop the services and applications that would make use of private connectivity, Vodafone has also curated several partner ecosystems. These partners include software developers and industry specialists who work alongside Vodafone to co-create industry-specific solutions.

Nick Gliddon, Business Director, Vodafone UK, said: “Mobile Private Networks are an opportunity for our business customers to accelerate innovation at an unprecedented scale. By installing a private and customisable network, Vodafone can support innovation by cultivating new use cases in an environment which brings the best opportunity.

“That could be delivering on low-latency requirements, enhanced security or enabling massive IoT models. Whatever the use case, Vodafone can deliver a tailored experience to act as a catalyst for innovation.”