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Virgin Media O2 partners with VMware to speed up 5G rollout

The UK operator has committed to deploying 5G services to 50% of the UK's population in 2023

Virgin Media O2 has partnered with VMware with the aim of using its technology to complete its 5G rollout across the UK and Europe. 

VMware’s Telco Cloud Infrastructure will offer scalability and security to Virgin Media O2’s core cloud networks, enabling the operator to streamline and speed up the deployment of 5G connectivity.

Meanwhile, VMware Tanzu for Telco's Kubernetes cluster capabilities will provide Containers as a Service (CaaS) for Virgin Media O2 network’s ability to support multi-vendor solutions for interoperability.

Allowing telecom companies to mix and match equipment instead of relying on a single supplier when building or maintaining networks has been one of the main focuses of the UK government, which is looking to minimise risks to national security.

Commenting on the announcement, VMware Service Provider & Edge SVP and GM Sanjay Uppal said that, under the partnership, Virgin Media O2 will be able to “deploy a network infrastructure that enables the successful roll out of its 5G services without limitations, by harnessing the agility, flexibility, and consistency of a common platform”.

Virgin Media O2 Infrastructure & Cloud Engineering and Delivery director Chris Buggie described virtualising and modernising the network as “essential” in securing Virgin Media O2’s “position as the leading telco provider across UK and EU”.

“We are delighted to partner with VMware to achieve this. By utilising a consistent, NFV- and cloud-native platform for onboarding and managing our workloads and network functions, we are able [to] reinvest into the network and our customers with a service we can be proud of,” he added.

Virgin Media O2 has committed to deploying 5G services to 50% of the UK's population in 2023, following its successful completion of the gigabit upgrade in December 2021.

Analyst Paolo Pescatore told IT Pro that the deal “builds upon the growing importance of transforming mobile networks underpinned by virtualising core functions”.

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“With only a few areas of growth (predominately in the enterprise space), all focus is on costs and maximising efficiencies. The role of cloud computing combined with AI and represent key enablers for the rollout of new telco services,” he said.

For VMware, being selected for a partnership by Virgin Media O2 provides a “strong endorsement of [its] capabilities” within a market that is “awash with solutions” – many of which were displayed during this year's Mobile World Congress, said Pescatore.

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