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Vodafone and Coventry University have collaborated to open the UK’s first 5G Standalone (5G SA) Media Innovation Lab in Coventry. The project aims to bring broadcasters and other media companies, as well as the software development community, to the lab to develop 5G use cases for the media industry.

The next-gen innovation lab was originally deployed in 2020 to enable healthcare students to take immersive, real-time AR and VR tours of the human body. Vodafone and Coventry University will now expand the remit of the 5G SA network to support digital transformation and 5G adoption within the media industry.

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The 5G Standalone environment will offer lightning-fast download speeds, near-real-time latency capabilities, and network slicing. The lab will support proof of concepts as well as allow the development and testing of end-to-end solutions in a safe and configurable environment.

Network slicing enabled by 5G Standalone allows telecom operators to create separate and isolated networks for different use cases. Each slice can be configured differently. As they are isolated from each other, the performance of one would not impact that of another.

The development is seen as a boon for the broadcasting industry, as 5G SA capability will greatly improve upload speeds apt for live streaming activities, reducing the risk of network congestion impacting performance. This capacity is best suited for stadium environments and mega events, as well as for content distribution in isolated areas.

Commenting on the development, Danny Kelly, head of innovation at Vodafone Business UK, said, “This is another UK-first brought by Vodafone as we continue to explore the myriad powerful benefits of 5GSA, helping the UK to become a leader in this new technology. Finding 5GSA uses for the media makes perfect sense, as the technology is well suited to this sector. It enables faster speeds, less latency (buffering) and is more reliable and secure.

Meanwhile, Professor John Latham CBE, Coventry University vice chancellor, said, “We are delighted that we have been able to extend our collaboration with Vodafone following the development of the standalone 5G network that has been so successfully used by our healthcare students. This new project will expand our work with Vodafone into the media arena, and we are excited to see how our experts can work with the broadcasting industry on how this technology can be put to use.”

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