Virgin Media O2 switches on 5G Standalone network

Virgin Media O2 has announced the switch on of its 5G Standalone network in 14 cities across the UK.

The major upgrade will bring wider 5G coverage, higher bandwidth and improved latency.

The new network will be available to consumers with 5G Standalone compatible SIMs and devices at no extra cost and customers will seamlessly switch between 4G, 5G or 5G Standalone to ensure the best possible connectivity.

Unlike existing 5G services which have relied on parts of the 4G network to send and receive data, Virgin Media O2’s 5G Standalone network is a new network built using future-proofed radio infrastructure and a cloud-based core. This multi-million pound investment will also ensure enhanced network reliability and a larger coverage footprint.

5G Standalone will increase network capacity, cut latency and support a huge increase in the number of connected devices. This will unlock many of the innovative use cases associated with 5G, including autonomous transport solutions, remote healthcare and fully robotic factories. It will also enable network slicing and pave the way for Virgin Media O2 to offer dedicated services for the likes of augmented reality, gaming, advanced robotics and other business use cases.

The 5G Standalone network also uses more energy efficient technology, helping Virgin Media O2 to cut its energy use and emissions in line with its Better Connections Plan.

The switch on of 5G Standalone follows another year of big investment in Virgin Media O2’s mobile network, with the operator now providing 5G coverage to more than 50 per cent of the UK population.

Jeanie York, chief technology officer at Virgin Media O2, said, "The launch of 5G Standalone is the culmination of a multi-year programme and is a real leap forward in the evolution of our mobile network. While it’s still early days, our customer-centric rollout will continue throughout 2024 with some consumer customers seeing the immediate benefits including increased reliability and coverage. This new technology will future proof our mobile network for years to come and paves the way for exciting customer led innovations in the future."

Kester Mann, director of consumer and connectivity at CCS Insight, said, "The launch of 5G Standalone is an important milestone for Virgin Media O2 as it opens the door to it offering a host of new services. Many of these are associated with the long-term vision of 5G, such as network slicing and super low-latency applications. With availability in 14 cities across the UK, many customers will already be able to enjoy the benefits of faster speeds and enhanced network capacity."

Virgin Media O2 will be continuing its rollout of 5G Standalone to more towns and cities throughout the UK in 2024, as it continues investing in its network to improve mobile connectivity for more customers. Last year, the operator upgraded its 4G network in more than 465,000 UK postcodes.