Virgin Media O2

Virgin Media O2 extends Ericsson partnership to boost UK 5G connectivity

Commercial agreement will see tech provider’s 4G and 5G radio access network technology deployed across the UK, with hardware, software and service enhancements to improve connectivity while reducing energy consumption and accelerating upgrades

In a network upgrade that could see Virgin Media O2 become one of the first of its kind in Europe to trial Ericsson’s cloud radio access network (RAN) solution, the two companies have announced plans to bring greater 4G and 5G coverage and capacity to major cities and towns across the UK as part of a renewed network partnership agreement.

As part of the deal, Virgin Media O2 and Ericsson have agreed a multimillion-pound contract to deploy the latest products and solutions from the Ericsson Radio System portfolio in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Additional service upgrades and small cell solutions are included as part of the network modernisation, which will see Virgin Media O2 customers in major UK cities – including Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Belfast – benefit from enhanced mobile capacity, improved coverage, faster speeds and better 4G and 5G experiences.

The latest generation of Ericsson quad-technology baseband, multiband and 5G Massive MIMO radio AIR 3258 will be deployed across the network, enhancing 5G performance for users while increasing its energy efficiency. Ericsson anticipates a reduction of up to 30% in energy use in comparison with the previous generation of radio, while an expected 40% reduction in weight and volume will minimise impact on site infrastructure and help accelerate network deployment.

Commenting on the partnership, Jeanie York, chief technology officer at Virgin Media O2, said: “This multimillion-pound investment in our network will mean our customers can benefit from more reliable and faster services at the same time as reducing overall carbon emissions. Building on our long-standing relationship with Ericsson allows us to deliver improvements quickly and efficiently, helping us move rapidly towards the future-proof networks our customers expect.”

“This multimillion-pound investment in our network will mean our customers can benefit from more reliable and faster services at the same time as reducing overall carbon emissions”
Jeanie York, Virgin Media O2

Katherine Ainley, CEO of Ericsson UK and Ireland, added: “Ericsson is at the forefront of high-performance and energy-efficient 5G networks, and this new agreement is another important milestone on our journey together with Virgin Media O2 to bring the very best in next-generation connectivity to key locations across the UK.

“As end-to-end partner on both radio and core, we are building a network of the future that will not only offer superior connectivity for Virgin Media O2 customers, but also deliver an innovation platform that can help to transform new industries and pave the way to a more connected digital society.” 

This is the latest engagement between the two companies. In July 2021, Ericsson was selected by Virgin Media O2 to deploy its cloud-native, container-based, dual-mode 5G standalone core for then newly merged operator’s nascent 5G standalone network, on which it said it would enable “the most advanced” enterprise applications and services. Virgin Media O2 agreed to 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.

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