In a move that represents its third UK operator 5G core contract win in a matter of weeks, communications technology provider Ericsson has been selected by Virgin Media O2 to deploy its cloud-native, container-based, dual-mode 5G standalone core for the newly merged operator’s nascent 5G standalone network, on which it intends to enable “the most advanced” enterprise applications and services.
Under the terms of the agreement, which is already being put into practice, Virgin Media O2 will bring its 4G, 5G non-standalone and 5G standalone services into a single, fully integrated Ericsson dual-mode 5G core hosted on Ericsson cloud infrastructure in Virgin Media O2’s datacentres. The system incorporates Ericsson network orchestration, automation, enhanced fault and performance management, as well as the Ericsson Traffic Monitoring and Analysis (TMA) solution for real-time troubleshooting and analytics.
Virgin Media O2 sees 5G standalone as the cornerstone of its mobile gigabit connectivity play, with ultra-low latency and network slicing at the heart of a huge data-handling capability. Ericsson’s 5G standalone core technology will see use in supporting applications and services such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and other immersive media experiences. The operator will also use 5G technology and container-based microservices architecture to accelerate the digital transformation of its enterprise customers.
The contract is the latest in an existing working relationship that began when the two companies first launched 5G commercial services in 2019. An extended 5G roll-out and network modernisation began in 2020, which included an innovation cluster to develop the network migration to 5G standalone architecture.
Commenting on the deal, Jorge Ribeiro, director of service platform strategy and engineering at Virgin Media O2, said: “This is an exciting time for our award-winning network, as we prepare for 5G standalone. Our teams are already working hard to deliver this infrastructure with Ericsson, which has been a trusted 5G partner since we launched 5G non-standalone in 2019. The benefits of 5G standalone are significant as we aim to supercharge the UK’s digital economy, and we look forward to rolling it out for our customers in the near future.”
Katherine Ainley, CEO of Ericsson UK & Ireland, added: “Ericsson’s leading 5G core technology and strong partnership with Virgin Media O2 means we are ready to build the network of the future together in the UK. Our dual-mode 5G core will enable the full power of 5G standalone within Virgin Media O2’s network, unleashing the full potential of 5G for consumers and enabling digital transformation in new industries. 5G standalone takes the UK’s mobile infrastructure to the next level and will help to boost long-term investment in the country and drive forward our growing digital economy.”
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