UK operator Virgin Media O2 signed up VMware for the virtualisation of its 5G network, as it seeks to modernise its mobile infrastructure in order to offer new services and boost its competitive position.

A statement from VMware also revealed that it has been involved in Virgin Media O2’s 5G network deployment programme over the past 16 months. Under this latest deal, the operator will adopt the vendor’s Telco Cloud Infrastructure to design, build, test and implement virtualised network functions.

Virgin Mobile O2 director of infrastructure and cloud engineering and delivery Chris Buggie stated that virtualising and modernising the network “is essential” to maintain the operator’s position, allowing it to use a “consistent, NFV- and cloud-native platform” to onboard and manage workloads and network functions.

Virgin Media O2 also plans to make use of the Kubernetes cluster capabilities of VMware’s Tanzu standard for telcos. The general aim is to enable the operator to support multi-vendor products and services in its network.

Virgin Media O2 was created out of Telefonica’s mobile operator O2 UK and Liberty Global-owned fixed company Virgin Media. The operator already works with Ericsson on its 5G network after signing up the Sweden-based vendor last year.

Notably, Ericsson and VMware signed a new five-year agreement in 2019 that is aimed at helping service providers deploy virtualised networks.

Korean vendor Samsung has also previously provided Virgin Media O2 with network equipment to conduct 4G and 5G trials.

Virgin Media O2 recently revealed its 5G network now covers 64 per cent of the population in London and indicated it is on track to achieving 50 per cent coverage of the entire UK population by 2023.