Virgin Media O2 UK is testing a secure public and private 5G network

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Broadband and mobile phone giant O2 (VMO2) has completed early trials of its 5G DRIVE project, a partly government-funded consortium aimed at developing secure connection capability to the Radio Access Network (RAN ) to integrate private and public networks. networks.

Private 5G networks can now be created to serve specific sites, such as busy ports or factories, while public networks are the ones we all use to make calls or operate mobile broadband through our smartphones. . But often there is a desire to connect these two together, which requires a shared ecosystem of hardware, software, and interoperability standards.

The ambition of 5G DRIVE (aka – Diversified oRAN Integration & Vendor Evaluation) is to provide a pathway for Tier 2 RAN vendors to enter the market with their products and solutions. A key element is helping private networks integrate into mobile network operator (MNO) networks. This is accomplished via the new SEPP N32 (c/f) roaming interface.

The first trials, completed in June 2022 at the wavemobile 5G test lab, demonstrated good progress. The team implemented an end-to-end testing system, delivering carrier-grade security to the enterprise using proven technologies. The next phase will see further trials to establish and test an “Ori” containerized core network, a Cisco Cloud Core as a Service network, and further investigation into the scaling aspects of 5G roaming. private and public. The trials will culminate with multiple simulated enterprise clients, with a 5G private network deployed using Multiple Access Edge Computing.

Dr. David Owens, Technical Testing Manager for VMO2, said:

“This is an important first step in our mission to create new solutions that provide vendor-neutral integration capability, advancing secure connectivity for private networks and helping deliver on the promise of the ‘network of networks. » 5G. The ambition of the 5G DRIVE project is to deliver a scalable solution, which will not affect public networks and provide carrier-grade security, which we are all extremely excited about.

All of this also feeds into the government’s target to have 35% of UK mobile network traffic on Open RAN platforms by 2030 (here). The O-RAN approach aims to standardize the design and functionality of radio access hardware and software, thereby increasing the number of companies able to deliver carriers via vendor-neutral hardware and software-defined technology (the RAN side covers infrastructure, masts and antennas). It can also help reduce costs and eliminates the need to depend on larger suppliers of this kit (e.g. nokia and Ericsson).

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