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Samsung to Trial 4G and 5G Mobile in the UK via Virgin Media O2

Tuesday, October 19th, 2021 (10:49 am) - Score 3,984
o2_uk_rural_mast

Technology giant Samsung has today revealed that UK mobile operator O2 (VMO2) will shortly become one of the first providers in the country to conduct a commercial trial of their latest 5G Massive MIMO radios, as well as 4G radios, over both low-band and mid-band spectrum frequencies. The new kit will also be OpenRAN compliant.

At present Ericsson remains the main strategic supplier for O2’s deployment of 5G infrastructure in the UK, but like all operators they’ve been keen to attract more competition into the market since the Government opted to ban Huawei (i.e. leaving only Ericsson and Nokia as the two dominant suppliers).

Earlier this year, Vodafone announced that Samsung, NEC and others would support their forthcoming commercial rollout of a new 4G and 5G network using Open Radio Access Network (OpenRAN) compliant kit (here), and now it appears as if O2 may also be courting Samsung for their own plans.

Just to recap. The O-RAN approach seeks to standardise the design and functionality of mobile kit and software, thus increasing the number of companies able to supply them via vendor-neutral hardware and software-defined technology (note: the RAN side covers infrastructure, masts and antennae).

According to the announcement, Samsung’s trial will provide its advanced solutions which include its baseband unit, 5G Massive MIMO radios, as well as 4G radios in a single unit, on both low-band and mid-band spectrums, while being Open RAN compliant “with some configuration changes and additional support in the future” (i.e. so it’s not quite O-RAN compliant.. yet).

Woojune Kim, Executive Vice President at Samsung, said:

“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 U.K. and our capabilities in bringing immersive and reliable 4G and 5G mobile experiences to users. At Samsung, we are continuously enhancing mobile experiences through powerful network solutions that advance and drive 5G to new levels.”

Jeanie York, CTO of VMO2, said:

“Vendor diversity is crucial to developing safe, secure, and more efficient networks. 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 U.K.”

Sadly, the announcement doesn’t provide any indication of where and when the commercial trial with O2’s 4G and 5G mobile network will take place, although such things often take a bit of time to setup and then assess. The trial will also assess the interoperability between Samsung’s latest solutions and VMO2’s 2G and 3G legacy networks.

We should point out that this is currently completely separate from the Virgin Mobile service, which is still being powered by an existing MVNO agreement with Vodafone. The other question mark will be whether what Samsung offers is enough to be truly competitive with Nokia and Ericsson, but that’s what trials are for.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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1 Response
  1. Full Of IT says:

    Vermin Media over-sold their capacity when I had their copper coaxial service. On top of that, one had to report 7 faults in one area, before they’d act upon it – despite having UBR that measured all this in realtime – and when I did get through to tech support they’d admit it was a CAPACITY issue. Yet they kept putting the sales material through the door and kept trying to sell capacity they obviously didn’t have. Which is technically criminal fraud since it is done KNOWINGLY. The UBR obviously has capacity and congestion metrics in real-time like even my basic home router does. So, what shower of idiots allowed them to buy a functional mobile network? One that GiffGaff also relies upon? Further worsening the UK mobile market, IMHO. It was already bad that BT Group was allowed to both buy EE, their main competitor for bandwidth-rich infrastructure (but in the mobile market) AND have their own BT Mobile network, after BT Cellnet was sold-off to become O2 in the first place back in the early 2000s.

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