O2 upgrades UK network ahead of 5G launch

2 October 2019

O2 5G

O2 parent company Telefónica UK has embarked on a network transformation project that it says will prepare its network for O2’s upcoming 5G launch. The project involves combining legacy infrastructure and building a new IP network with equipment and services supplied by Juniper Networks.

The UK project is the latest implementation of Telefónica Group’s global Fusión network transformation initiative, which the operator has launched in many of its markets worldwide. In Spain, the Fusión project recently included an upgrade to support 5G, for example.

In the UK, Telefónica just completed the project’s first phase, which saw services migrated to the Fusión Network. The new IP network is expected to be more efficient and automated, which will help the operator to provide better customer experiences in mobile, residential and business services.

Brendan O’Reilly, Chief Technology Officer, Telefónica UK, explained: “As we prepare for our 5G rollout from October 2019 with the end goal of building a 5G economy in coalition with British industry, we need a network infrastructure that benefits customers from the outset, with better speeds, intelligent security and improved user experience. This requires a network that is sophisticated, but also simpler to deploy, operate and maintain, which is why we chose Juniper as our strategic IP network provider. This overhaul of our network provides the flexibility, scalability and performance to meet those demands.”

Related: O2 5G coverage and roll-out

Getting ready for 5G

Telefónica says that the upgrade will make its networks less complex and more flexible to create new services and deliver them to market more quickly, such as Internet of Things (IoT) offerings. It also notes that the upgrade will improve network security.

Flexibility and agile service delivery are common goals among network operators as they prepare for 5G, which is expected to enable myriad new services beyond basic mobile broadband that will open market opportunities in a variety of industry sectors.

O2 has been busy in 5G trials in the UK. For example, in the area of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs), O2 is providing network connectivity for the AutoAir project, one of the six government-funded 5G testbeds. The operator is also working with the European Space Agency on Project Darwin to explore new connectivity options for CAVs.

O2 plans to launch 5G this month in six cities: Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, London and Slough. This will be followed by 20 more cities by the end of this year, and 30 more by summer of 2020. The operator recently unveiled unlimited data plans for 4G that will also apply to 5G when services are launched. 

Michelle Donegan is a tech writer who has covered the communications industry for more than 25 years on both sides of the pond. Having worked for various industry titles, including Communications Week International, Total Telecom and Light Reading, she specializes in mobile network technology trends. 

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