Virgin Media O2 uses Ericsson cloud core for 5G SA

Virgin Media O2
(Image credit: Virgin Media O2)

Virgin Media O2 has become the third major UK mobile operator to use Ericsson’s cloud core technology to power is Standalone 5G (5G SA) network.

Most commercial 5G deployments to date have relied on Non-standalone 5G (5G NSA), which uses new radio technologies but still relies on the underlying 4G core.

5G SA uses a new virtual, cloud-based core that allows data to be processed closer to the point of collection and enables features like network slicing. This allows for guaranteed speeds, enhanced reliability, and ultra-low latency.

Vodafone SA 5G

These characteristics will be essential for 5G applications like Virtual Reality, robotics, and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). There will also be an inevitable improvement to mobile broadband services.

O2 had been working with Ericsson since 2019, the same year it launched its commercial 5G service. Since then, the operator has merged with Virgin Media and the combined entity hopes to become a major player in the emerging field of converged network services

This expansion of their agreement will see Virgin Media O2’s 3G, NSA 5G and SA 5G infrastructures integrated into a cloud core, supported by Ericsson’s orchestration, automation, fault and performance management, and traffic monitoring analysis capabilities.

“This is an exciting time for our award winning network, as we prepare for 5G Standalone,” declared Jorge Ribeiro, Director of Service Platform Strategy & Engineering at Virgin Media O2.

“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.”

Ericsson has also signed similar contracts with EE, Vodafone, the latter of which first deployed 5G SA at the University of Coventry last year.

“Ericsson’s leading 5G Core technology and strong partnership with Virgin Media O2 means we are ready to build the network of the future together in the UK,” said Katherine Ainley, Ericsson UK & Ireland CEO.

“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.”

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.