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Ericsson to provide 5G SA core to Virgin Media O2

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Swedish vendor Ericsson has signed an agreement to provide a 5G “core” to Virgin Media O2, a new company established by a merger between Virgin Media and the mobile operator O2. Ericsson will build a VMO2 standalone 5G core, that will incorporate 4G and non-standalone 5G cores, to create dual-mode 5G core, as referred to by Ericsson.


The vendor has been a supplier to mobile operator O2 UK for quite some time now. The previous deal between the two companies focused on an ongoing “network modernization program” that was introduced in June 2020. Since the older core used by O2 was also that of Ericsson, it was appropriate to continue with the same technology vendor.


Moreover, the new agreement also allows Virgin Media O2 to provide a standalone 5G service. UK operators have based their 5G launches on a “non-standalone” architecture that allows the 5G RAN to revert to the current 4G core, but Virgin Media O2 have decided to go with a different approach. 


The new infrastructure will allow the operator to ensure ultra-low latency, high-bandwidth connectivity and the use of network slicing. There are a variety of applications including immersive media for businesses and consumers as well as for digital industry transformations.


Katherine Ainley, CEO of Ericsson UK & Ireland, said: “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.”


“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, who have been a trusted 5G partner since we launched 5GNSA 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,” commented Jorge Ribeiro, Director of Service Platform Strategy & Engineering at VMO2.

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