The call was made using Neutral Host In-Building (NHIB) technology – vendor-neutral hardware deployed by third-party that operators can use to provide mobile connectivity

O2, now merged with Virgin Media, has announced a UK first following a successful call from its network using NHIB technology.

The trial took place at an unspecified business site around London’s Canary Wharf, with O2 working in partnership with Freshwave and CommScope. The test followed Joint Operator Technical Specifications (JOTS), which is the agreed technical standard for the technology supported by all four of the UK’s major mobile operators.

“This technology is aligned to the new JOTS Neutral Host In-Building (NHIB) specification, an initiative led by Virgin Media O2,” said Omar Calvo, Director of Radio Engineering at O2. “I’m proud to say Virgin Media O2 is the first UK mobile network operator to support live calls on NHIB small cells and we see this as an exciting milestone for Virgin Media O2 and we believe it will transform the way mobile coverage is delivered into offices and indoor public venues.”

This technology draws many comparisons to Open RAN, which similarly seeks to standardise the design of RAN equipment, making it modular and interoperable, ultimately allowing numerous vendors to co-exist within a single operator’s RAN infrastructure.

Virgin Media O2 said the solution being tested would simplify multi-operator indoor mobile network coverage for businesses around the UK.

NHIB technology is of growing interest throughout the UK and beyond. Earlier this month, the UK’s largest single site life science campus, Alderley Park in Cheshire, signed a neutral host deal with BT to provide indoor connectivity.


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