Ericsson said it has been selected by U.K. carrier Virgin Media O2 provide the core kit for its Standalone (SA) 5G network, with the infrastructure expected to support a range of advanced applications including Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and other immersive media experiences.
The Swedish vendor said that it will deploy a cloud-native, container-based, dual-mode 5G Standalone core on cloud infrastructure in the U.K.
The new agreement, which is already being put into practice, will see Virgin Media O2 bring its 4G, 5G NSA and 5G SA services into a single fully integrated Ericsson dual-mode 5G Core hosted on Ericsson cloud infrastructure in Virgin Media O2’s data centers. The solution is incorporating 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.
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, who have been a trusted 5G partner since we launched 5G NSA 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.”
“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,” said Katherine Ainley, CEO of Ericsson UK and Ireland.
The merger between U.K. operators Virgin Media and O2 was completed last month. The new Virgin Media O2 is one of the U.K.’s largest operators with 47 million connections including broadband, mobile, TV and fixed lines.
The company has committed to invest at least £10bn over the next 5 years in the U.K. Also, the new joint business says it will have created almost 2,000 new U.K. roles by the end of this year.
In May, the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) decided to allow the proposed merger between mobile operator O2, owned by Spanish telco Telefonica, and fixed operator Virgin Media.
Both Virgin and O2 sell wholesale services to a number of mobile operators in the U.K. Virgin supplies wholesale leased lines to mobile operators and O2 provides its mobile network to companies that do not have their own.
The CMA was initially concerned that, following the merger, Virgin and O2 could raise prices or reduce the quality of these wholesale services. If this were to happen, it could lead to other companies being forced to offer lower quality mobile services or increase their retail prices which would negatively impact consumers.
Having examined the evidence, the CMA has concluded that the proposed merger is unlikely to lead to any substantial lessening of competition in relation to the supply of wholesale services.