Virgin Media O2 revealed the use of Samsung Electronics network kit on a small number of its live 4G and 5G sites, signalling the vendor’s continued push into European markets and underlining the UK operator’s open RAN ambitions.

The deployment was in two separate areas and is the latest in the pair’s collaboration following laboratory tests in 2021.

In a statement, the companies added the Samsung-powered sites were used to conduct the first 5G data call on Virgin Media O2’s commercial network.

Samsung provided 4G radios, and 5G Massive MIMO radios and baseband units, which was used across Virgin Media O2’s low- and mid-band spectrum holdings.

Deployment of Samsung equipment is part of Virgin Media O2’s bid to increase the number of suppliers in its network and include open RAN. The products supplied by the vendor are compliant with the new architecture following some configuration changes.

Virgin Media O2 CTO Jeanie York called the latest development a “milestone in our push to developing open RAN technologies”.

Samsung Electronics UK CEO Francis Chun indicated the company intended to play a “major part of the diversification of the network equipment supply chain”.

This drive for supply chain diversification was intensified by operators following the removal of Huawei as an option by UK authorities.

In the wake of Huawei’s well-publicised issues across several European markets and a general push towards more open architecture, Samsung has been involved in several trial deployments in the region including in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Samsung also won a major contract with Vodafone UK in 2021, as part of the operator’s open RAN plan.