Virgin Media O2 deploys first 5G sites using Samsung kit

(Image credit: focustech)

Virgin Media O2 has successfully completed the deployment of multiple 4G and 5G sites powered by Samsung’s radio equipment in the UK for the first time, strengthening the Korean tech giant’s bid to become to supplier to the nation's mobile industry.

Samsung says its 64T64R Massive MIMO radios are already powering 5G services for millions of people globally and will help operators achieve better coverage and greater capacity when combined with its baseband units.

The two firms have been testing the equipment since last year, with live field trials held at sites in Tamworth and the Peak District.

Samsung 5G kit

These tests have proved the interoperability of Samsung’s 5G radio gear with Virgin Media O2’s 2G, 3G and 4G infrastructure, and validated the use of Samsung’s Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) capabilities, which allows frequencies to be intelligently shared between multiple network technologies. The sites also successfully powered a 5G data call.

The radios work with all three of Virgin Media O2’s key 5G spectrum bands – 800MHz, 2.1GHz and 3.5GHz – and are compatible with Open RAN.

“We are pleased to build on our previous collaboration with Samsung, delivering another 5G milestone in our push to developing Open RAN technologies,” said Jeanie York, Chief Technology Officer at Virgin Media O2. “We will continue our collaborative efforts with Samsung to explore the possibilities of 5G and push the technology further to deliver superior end-user experiences for our customers.”

Samsung has traditionally had a limited presence in the telecoms equipment market but sees 5G as a huge opportunity both in the UK and around the world. It has seen strong demand in its native South Korea as well as from US operators.

Central to its pitch is that unlike other vendors, Samsung is focusing its resources on 4G, 5G and 6G rather than legacy technologies, and can deliver an end-to-end proposition that combines chipsets, radios, and cores. The UK has identified the Korean electronics giant is one of the companies that can help it fill the void left by Huawei – both in terms of innovation and competition.

“Samsung is excited to extend our network collaboration with Virgin Media O2 in the UK., advancing from lab trials to now delivering 4G and 5G in commercial networks out in the field,” said Francis BJ Chun, President and CEO, Samsung Electronics UK. “We look forward to playing a major part of the diversification of the network equipment supply chain in the UK market.”

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.