The pilot incorporates Vilicom’s Connectivity-as-a-Service (CaaS) network platform, which has been developed in partnership with Mavenir and their virtualised RAN technology

O2 has today announced that it is working with Vilicom to integrate and operate the latter’s CaaS Open RAN infrastructure.

The solution reportedly reduces the cost and space requirements of 4G and 5G public and private deployments, especially as they relate to indoor usage.

“Mobile connectivity is playing a vital role in rebuilding Britain and O-RAN technology presents an opportunity to provide better mobile coverage across the UK,” said O2’s CTO Brendan O’Reilly. “We continue to invest in delivering the best possible network and are excited to be working with Vilicom to enhance indoor coverage for our business customers. 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.”

Ultimately, O2 plans to connect this pilot to its live network in 2021.

Open RAN continues to gain prominence in the UK, with Vodafone announcing plans last month to scale up its Open RAN pilot programme to 2,600 sites in Wales and England. Similarly, increasingly close political ties to Japan are opening the door for companies like NEC, who are also be conducting an Open RAN trial in the UK entitled NeutrORAN. 

Part of this interest is driven by the technologies alleged suitability as a replacement for Huawei technology – replacing the Chinese vendor’s technology will be a major challenge for Vodafone in the coming years, hence their interest in the technology makes sense. But the same is not true for O2, for whom the majority of their networks are supplied by Nokia and Ericsson. That said, O2’s parent company Telefonica is scaling up its investments in this alternative RAN technology, hence it is unsurprising that they would not be looking to pursue similar trials in their UK market.


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