Vodafone UK heralds the arrival of ‘5G Ultra’

The switch-on of standalone 5G in some parts of the country is being branded as 5G Ultra by Vodafone UK.

Explaining something as technical as 5G SA to the average punter is no small task. But what’s the point of going to all the trouble and expense of rolling out ‘proper’ 5G if your customers don’t understand or appreciate how much you’re doing for them? Of course, few normies know or care about standalone vs non-standalone, so more simplified nomenclature is called for.

“Today our reliable, award-winning network gets even better with the launch of Vodafone 5G Ultra,” said Max Taylor, Vodafone Consumer Director. “Our customers in London, Manchester, Glasgow, and Cardiff will be the first to experience the fast speeds, longer lasting battery life and even more reliable connectivity 5G Ultra brings.”

For intrepid subscribers wanting to know a bit more about this unexpected Aladdin’s cave of telecoms treasures, Vodafone has even created a special website that explains what all the fuss is about. Eagle-eyed visitors may be disappointed to learn that the only devices currently capable of harnessing the power of 5G Ultra are the Samsung Galaxy S21 and S22 series phones. It seems most smartphone makers have yet to consider supporting 5G SA to be worth whatever additional cost it incurs but maybe the arrival of 5G Ultra will spur them on.

“We’re excited about what the future holds for our customers,” said Nick Gliddon, Business Director at Vodafone UK. “5G standalone is a truly transformation [sic] technology that can have an impact on industry and businesses especially when blended with IoT and cloud.”

That’s not the most strident claim, is it? Apart from the faster speeds and improved battery life (it’s unclear whether the comparison is with 5G NSA or 4G), the announcement claims 5G Ultra could help drive the take up of smart health services, ultimately saving the NHS billions. Equivalent smartness applied to industry could result in reduced emissions and private networks could significantly increase the gross value added for British manufacturing on the whole.

It will be interesting to see how, if at all, Vodafone’s competitors seek to engage with Joe Public when they get their 5G SA act together. Is ‘5G Ultra’ now taken? What’s better than that – Mega 5G? Just as with the first iteration of 5G, there seems to be little prospect of extracting any extra ARPU from 5G Ultra so, while this announcement may intrigue a few consumers, it will be the B2B applications that offer the most potential for return on those 5G SA investments.


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One comment

  1. Avatar Sebastien Violette 23/06/2023 @ 1:20 pm

    One of the 5G SA impacts on end-users is liked to privacy: 5G SA allows the encryption of the IMSI (i.e., International Mobile Subscriber Identity, aka IMSI, used to identify the user of a mobile network and a unique identification associated with all mobile networks) from the device to the network. This can be done either a 5G SA-compliant smartphone (rightly mentioned in this article) or by a 5G SA-compliant SIM card (for more information, read: IMSIs (cicurlating uncencrypted over the air/radio network) can be easily misused to locate, trace individuals and collect data.
    Said in other words, this identifier anonimisation is a further step towards more privacy for the end-users. So people who have nothing to reproach themselves with are protected.
    For the others, 3GPP 5G SA specifications also include the possibility for Law Enforcement Agencies to access this IMSI information anyway via Law Interception capability updates (refer here for more information:

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