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Vodafone taps Ericsson to strengthen UK 5G core

Partners to deploy cloud-native dual-mode 5G core to bring the full promise of 5G services to business users

Just after revealing plans to introduce one of the world’s largest implementations of Open RAN, UK operator Vodafone has turned its attention to core comms technology and is partnering with Ericsson to deploy a new cloud-native dual-mode core for its 5G standalone network in the UK. 

The deal, which sets out a five-year technology roadmap, builds on a longstanding relationship and includes packet core and signalling network functions and will see the deployment of a dual-mode core, also known as a single packet core, which will enable 5G standalone, 5G non-standalone and 4G technology. 

The deployment of Ericsson’s cloud-native 5G core is a critical milestone for Vodafone to deliver 5G standalone connectivity services across the UK. Vodafone first deployed 5G standalone on Ericsson technology at the Coventry University campus in July 2020.

Both firms say that working end-to-end with the 5G standalone radio network, the technology provided will be a major catalyst for making the digital economy and Industry 4.0 a reality, powering high-end next-generation use cases and support applications requiring the fastest connectivity, highest data rates and smallest latency demands, as well as network slicing capabilities.

Vodafone expects smartphones with support for 5G standalone to be launched later this year, and said it would be in a “unique place” to support future capabilities.

Andrea Dona, chief network officer at Vodafone UK, said: “Ericsson has been one of our most trusted and successful partners for many years, and we are thrilled to be taking this critical step forward together. With this new core delivery, the foundations are being built for our 5G standalone network, which will enable us to work with customers to deliver innovations that would not be possible otherwise.” 

Katherine Ainley, Ericsson UK & Ireland CEO, added: “Our 5G industry leadership means Vodafone is positioned to deliver exceptional results for its customers. We have a deep understanding of Vodafone’s customer and market needs, and with our leading product portfolio, supply chain, field-service expertise and support organisation, we are able to deploy speedily at scale and bring exciting new services to the UK market. We are proud to be instrumental in making this happen for Vodafone.” 

Vodafone and Ericsson have already delivered a 5G network in London together, as well as connecting other towns and cities across the UK. Their UK agreement follows a similar partnership between the companies in Germany whereby Ericsson delivered Vodafone 4G and 5G packet core infrastructure. In both markets, Ericsson will support Vodafone’s entire cloud-native 5G core standalone for packet core applications.

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