Virgin Media O2 taps Juniper to upgrade core IP backbone for 800G readiness

Need for increased data capacity and flexible scalability highlighted by 32% traffic growth on its mobile network,16% growth in broadband data downloads and a peak traffic load of 22TB over the past year

Noting consistently good user experience and sustainable business growth will be fundamental benchmarks of success in an increasingly competitive market, and with usage on both its mobile and fixed broadband infrastructures reaching unprecedented levels, Virgin Media O2 has successfully migrated all core traffic in its backbone locations across the UK to Juniper Networks transport routers capable of supporting 800G capability.

As it embarks on its journey to offer full-fibre across the UK for residential customers, beef up its business infrastructure and merge all its mobile users onto the O2 network, in the past year, Virgin Media O2, one of the UK’s largest fixed and mobile service providers, has seen 32% traffic growth on its mobile network, 16% growth in broadband data downloads and a peak traffic load of 22TB, underlining the need for increased data capacity and flexible scalability.

With its 5G and network expansion continuing, Virgin Media O2 turned to Juniper to build a network that is 400G-enabled and 800G-ready to create what the tech supplier assured would be a near future-proofed digital foundation for its customers. 

Virgin Media O2 selected Juniper as the technology partner for the strategic upgrade for numerous reasons, including its previous track record as a key networking provider for more than 10 years with Virgin Media and O2 before their joint venture in 2021. Another factor was said to be Juniper’s ability to deliver “compelling” economics for Virgin Media O2. These include long-term investment protection through continuous custom silicon innovation by keeping pace with market demands, the planned use of automation tools to help reduce operational costs, and a “favourable” total cost of ownership with a reduced energy consumption design.

“Virgin Media O2’s stated ambition is to ‘upgrade the UK’, providing fast, seamless broadband access and mobile services to as many homes and businesses as possible,” said Virgin Media O2 chief technology officer Jeanie York.

“This calls for responsible, strategic innovation and investment to create an agile network infrastructure that can simultaneously scale in step with our business, be mindful of resource consumption and deliver an extended lifecycle that protects our investment,” she added. “Juniper is a long-standing technology partner, so it is very reassuring that it has the same vision for sustainable growth, user experience, and the fundamental importance of digital enablement in our communities and economy.”

The deployment has seen Virgin Media O2 migrate all core traffic in its six backbone locations across the UK with Juniper Networks PTX10008 Packet Transport Routers, which are said to be purpose-built to deliver cloud-optimised network transformation at scale and with operational flexibility.

400G capability is achieved through ultra-high port density, native inline MACSec encryption on all ports, coupled with a new generation of ASIC that powers a range of line cards. PTX10008 routers support 400G coherent optical transceivers (400G ZR and ZR+) without any density loss today and are 800G-capable with upgradeability to 800G in the future with silicon innovation and line cards in the chassis.

“Service providers face a complex set of technical and commercial challenges that can be contradictory, even intractable – and likely only to multiply in the future – without the right approach,” remarked Juniper Networks chief technology officer Raj Yavatkar.

“Virgin Media O2 has chosen to [deploy technology] that can turn complexity on its head to deliver a simplified, more reliable and more sustainable network foundation for its business…The company can embrace and accelerate growth and service evolution, safe in the knowledge that its millions of users will continue to be able to enjoy the best digital experiences going forward, whatever demands the future may bring,” he said.

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