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O2 UK joins the open RAN race in move to improve indoor coverage

Brendan OReilly O2 CTO.jpg

Telefónica’s O2 UK is the latest company to test open-source radio technology, in a trial with UK and Irish vendor Vilicom.

O2, which is likely to merge with cable operator Virgin Media during 2021, said it is using Vilcom open radio access network (open RAN or O RAN) technology to deliver 4G and 5G services in indoor blackspots.

O2 CTO Brendan O’Reilly (pictured) said: “O RAN integrations such as this are an integral part of our commitment to deliver the best network experience for our customers, where they need it most.”

Vilicom said O2 is the first mobile network operator to work with Vilicom to trial this technology and plans to connect the pilot rollout to its live network next year. However, Capacity has already reported that Vilicom works with Irish mobile operators Eir, Three Ireland and Vodafone Ireland, to provide indoor services at Dublin airport.

Vilicom said its infrastructure has been developed in partnership with Mavenir using its cloud RAN technology. “The CaaS [connectivity-as-a-service] network platform streamlines operations, rapidly reducing the cost and space requirements of in-building 4G and 5G public and private mobile connectivity for the UK’s industries and businesses,” said the company.

Vilicom CEO Sean Keating said: “Mobile network operators are and have been partners of Vilicom for the last 20-years. We are excited to have successfully tested this service with O2 who will benefit from this product in several ways. Bringing connectivity to their customers of course is the main one, but also it will allow them to densify the deployment of network coverage and capacity, where it is most needed - indoors.”

O2 announced earlier this year that it would be working with cloud-native software firm Mavenir and using O RAN technology to enhance coverage, capacity and customer experience. Capacity reported in February 2020 that Vilicom was working with Mavenir, promising to “transform mobile network economics” with CaaS.

O2 emphasised that it was continuing to work with a number of other O RAN partners including DenseAir and WaveMobile.

 

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