Vilicom, Virgin Media O2 boost enterprise comms with commercial Open RAN

Global network design and management firm teams with recently merged operator to roll out one of the first commercial sites built on its Open RAN technology platform

After several months of dedicated testing of functionality, interoperability and cyber security, Vilicom has announced that it has teamed with Virgin Media O2 to roll out what it claims to be one of the first commercial sites built on its Open RAN technology platform to enhance indoor coverage to the recently merged operator’s subscribers.

Vilicom said that as mobile connectivity helps power the country’s recovery, businesses of all sizes across the UK require reliable 4G connectivity indoors. Vilicom believes the integration of a virtualised Open RAN platform with all UK-based mobile network operators (MNOs) will meet this demand, and is also confident that subscribers within the coverage area of its connectivity-as-a service (CaaS) network will benefit from an enhanced network service, including improved voice quality and data speeds.

Vilicom said the network, delivering full availability of its cloud-based network platform, was built in adherence with the specifications laid out by the Joint Operators Technical Specifications for Neutral Host In-Building (JOTS NHIB) systems. The Vilicom infrastructure was developed in partnership with Mavenir using its Cloud RAN technology, and is a fully digital business model, unlike legacy systems, said the company.

The CaaS network platform is said to be able  to streamline site deployment, implements a full stack of network management and operations, offers fully integrated security features and aims to reduce the cost and space requirements of inbuilding 4G, and later 5G, public and private mobile connectivity for the UK’s industries and businesses. The model is also said to benefit MNOs by offloading traffic from macro cells to the inbuilding networks, making sure that traffic generated by indoor subscribers is served indoors, thus saving capacity of macro cells and reducing the need for expansion investment.

“Delivering this milestone achievement is testament to Vilicom’s commitment to implementing the latest approved technology by the MNOs to solve indoor mobile connectivity,” said Vilicom CEO Sean Keating. “We are proud to deliver this service live in conjunction with Virgin Media O2 and this virtual platform signals a new way forward for those in need of mobile connectivity in commercial real estate, built-to-rent and industry throughout the UK. This service will translate to significant cost savings and help reduce carbon footprint across the built environment as much of the power intensive infrastructure is hosted off-premise in our datacentre.”

Omar Calvo, director of radio engineering at Virgin Media O2, added: “Virgin Media O2’s neutral host solutions will deliver great inbuilding 4G coverage and capacity, providing a greener and more efficient network. We are constantly looking to innovate our range of network products, and our partnership with Vilicom has allowed us to develop this NHIB technique to help transform the capabilities of inbuilding cellular coverage.”

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