Super-fast mobile data: the next level in Vodafone’s 5G network

Status: 02.11.2021 12:28 p.m.

Vodafone is converting its 5G mobile network across Germany to the next stage of development, the “5G standalone” real-time network. The competitors Deutsche Telekom and Telefónica are still reluctant.

Vodafone is converting its 5G mobile network in Germany to the next stage of development – a so-called “standalone network” that does without the previous LTE technology. The new technology should noticeably reduce data runtimes. “Our 5G network then reacts as quickly as the human nervous system and needs less and less power to transmit data,” said Vodafone’s Germany boss, Hannes Ametsreiter.

Real-time remote control of devices

Significantly faster data transmission is particularly interesting for commercial users. For example, companies can use it to remotely control technical devices without any delay.

So-called network slicing is also possible: This means the provision of separate sub-networks with guaranteed performance data for special applications, for example in factory halls or soccer stadiums, as Vodafone calls it.

Private users benefit from the short data runtimes when playing online computer games, for example. “Augmented Reality” (AR) applications are also made easier, in which virtual content is displayed in a real environment in real time. A few days ago, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg announced that he sees the future of his social network in an increasingly “three-dimensional” Internet.

Reach for almost 60 million users

“In spring we freed the first stations in our 5G network from the existing LTE infrastructure. Now we are the first provider to bring real-time across the country,” says Vodafone technology boss Gerhard Mack. According to Vodafone, “5G standalone” is currently available to around ten million people. Theoretically, the range could be increased to 60 million by the end of 2022.

In practice, however, the number of users will be much lower because so far only a few smartphone models from manufacturers such as Samsung and Oppo support “5G standalone”.

Competitors are more cautious

That is also the reason why the Vodafone competitors are still holding back on large-scale expansion of the new technology. Deutsche Telekom has been testing “5G standalone” since February in Garching near Munich, but has not yet announced any major live operation in the area. In March of this year, Michael Dittrich, technical manager for the 5G introduction, declared that one would have to be patient a little before commercial use.

Competitor Telefónica (O2) has, among other things, experimented with computer games in a test network with “5G standalone”. In an interview with “Heise Online”, Technical Director Mallik Rao from Telefónica Germany announced in August that the technology would be activated nationwide as soon as there was real added value for the mass market. That is the case if enough smartphones technically support “5G standalone”.

Was tut Apple?

A big push in the expansion of the technology could come from Apple in the coming year. The hardware of the new iPhone 13 is already prepared for the real-time version of 5G. However, the function still has to be activated by a software update.

When it will come is still unclear. However, experts expect the iPhone manufacturer to release the update before the launch of its next smartphone model series in autumn 2022.

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