Vodafone UK to deploy Oracle tech to support 5G standalone network core

Leading UK operator taps IT giant for cloud-native network policy solution to help accelerate new 5G services and get 5G offerings into the hands of customers more quickly

Vodafone UK has selected Oracle Communications to spearhead network policy, as it looks to be able to make more intelligent policy decisions and quickly test and deploy new services for its standalone 5G network.

The UK operator announced in June 2021 that it was partnering with Ericsson to deploy a new cloud-native dual-mode core for its 5G standalone network in the UK. The firms’ 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 was seen as 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.

Vodafone said that by 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 supporting applications requiring the fastest connectivity, highest data rates and smallest latency demands, as well as network slicing capabilities.

With Oracle’s cloud-native network policy management solution as part of its 5G core, Vodafone believes it will be able to get new 5G offerings into the hands of customers more quickly, ranging from holographic calls to 5G game streaming without lag time, and film downloads at up to four times faster than 4G networks.

Aligned with the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), Oracle’s cloud-native 5G core control plane features network functions, including the policy control, that are designed to help operators automate and scale to meet the expected increase in 5G subscribers and connected devices.

Converged policy management comprises the 5G Core Policy Control Function (PCF) and the Policy and Charging Rules Function (PCRF). The system is designed to prioritise dynamically low-latency applications to edge data networks, while continuously optimising network policies based on data analytics.

For example, based on the data, Vodafone said the solution can help customers get the network offering that best suits their needs, be it connecting smart devices, utilising live streaming or enabling augmented/virtual reality experiences. As a result, Vodafone said it could provide a seamless experience across 4G and 5G networks while delivering a smooth integration of new 5G services. The system will be deployed by Oracle Communications Consulting.

“Moving to cloud native is a culture shift as much as it is a technology shift for a techcomms company like Vodafone,” said Andrea Dona, chief network officer at Vodafone UK. “Our partners must demonstrate flexibility and agility, as well as aligning to our vision of how technology will augment and support tomorrow’s digital society.”

Andrew Morawski, senior vice-president and general manager, Oracle Communications, Networks, added: “5G undoubtedly opens the door for endless new ways to engage with our world, but intelligent policy management is the entryway to capitalise on these opportunities. Our 5G and cloud capabilities are helping Vodafone to build a future-proof network that is automated, easier to scale, simpler to operate, and more cost-effective.” 

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