Virgin Media O2 teams up with Samsung for possible 5G speed boost

(Image credit: focustech)

Virgin Media O2 will trial Samsung’s 4G and 5G telecoms equipment on its live mobile network, strengthening the latter’s bid to become a major supplier for UK operators.

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. The UK mobile industry 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 5G kit

“With this trial, we are excited to join hands with Virgin Media O2 to demonstrate the readiness of our 5G network solutions for deployment in the UK. and our capabilities in bringing immersive and reliable 4G and 5G mobile experiences to users,” said Woojune Kim, Executive Vice President, Head of Global Sales & Marketing, at Samsung’s network business.

“At Samsung, we are continuously enhancing mobile experiences through powerful network solutions that advance and drive 5G to new levels.”

Samsung will provide baseband units that promise superior capacity and throughput as well as compact, lightweight Massive MIMO radio kit that will deliver enhanced network capability and are easier to install.  The company will also provide 4G radios that use a mixture of low-band and mid-band spectrum to improve coverage.

Crucially, the kit is OpenRAN compliant once some configuration changes and additional support are available in the future. This means operators can mix and match equipment from different vendors, benefiting from the full range of innovation in the market.  

"Vendor diversity is crucial to developing safe, secure, and more efficient networks,” said Jeanie York, Virgin Media O2 CTO. “We look forward to undertaking these initial trials with Samsung, which is another milestone in our continued journey to provide the best possible 5G experience for our customers, as well as boosting our 4G network, as we look to upgrade the UK.”

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.