Vodafone and Ericsson staged a mobile cloud gaming demo at Coventry University in the U.K. to show the impact of 5G Standalone (SA) network slicing.

Network slicing allows operators like Vodafone to customize connectivity services for specific customers and use cases. It’s been talked about for years as one of the primary advantages in 5G, but little has come of it. However, analysts like Mobile Experts are now seeing multiple factors come together to rev up the prospects for network slicing.

In the Coventry University demo, trial participants reportedly experienced more consistent gaming connectivity, with a 270% increase in download and upload performance, a 25% decrease in latency and 57% less jitter.

“5G Standalone is not an upgrade on 4G, but an entirely new type of technology,” said Vodafone UK Chief Network Officer Andrea Dona in a statement. “Through this trial, we provided a slice of connectivity, customized specifically for gaming, to provide a full fiber like experience over the airwaves. This is the value of network slicing – a more personalized connectivity service to make digital more in-tune with each customer.” 

During the trial, participants were asked to play cloud-based games on smartphones under two connectivity scenarios:

  • Scenario A simulated the public network that people use every day. 
  • Scenario B was an isolated 5G SA network slice that was optimized for cloud gaming. Scenario B’s network offered higher download speeds, lower latency, reduced jitter and no risk of network congestion.

Here’s what Bryter, an independent gaming insights and consultancy agency, found from the trial:

  • For Scenario A, 63% of trial participants ranked satisfaction between 0/10 and 5/10, with only 13% ranking satisfaction above 8/10. Frustrations included longer loading times, non-synchronized sound and visuals and increased lag.
  • For Scenario B, 88% of trial participants ranked satisfaction above 8/10. The better gaming experience was due to improved game loading (appealing to those who use gaming to pass time), smoother graphics rendering and reduced lag and jitter (appealing to those who prefer fast-paced games).

According to Vodafone, the trial demonstrates the importance of 5G SA and network slicing to deliver new 5G use cases and experiences, beyond what would be possible on a legacy network.

Vodafone also took the opportunity to point out that Vodafone UK and Three UK are proposing a merger that would deliver 5G SA at scale – taking 5G SA to 99% of populated areas by 2034.

Ericsson said research from its own studies and consultancy firm Arthur D. Little shows that communications service providers globally have an addressable revenue opportunity of about $200 billion when it comes to network slicing. Healthcare, government and transportation are identified as some of the biggest areas for potential revenue.

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