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Vilicom and Virgin Media O2 build neutral host in-building (NHIB) site


Extends 4G mobile coverage, speeds data, improves voice quality, eliminates indoor blackspots

Specialist Open RAN systems integrator Vilicom has solved one of the great challenges in 5G network construction for its client Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) – in-building mobile connectivity. In a recent study commissioned by VMO2, it claimed that good network access puts at least £10,000 on the value of a domestic building. 

Vilicom claims it has successfully rolled its first commercial sites with VMO2, built with Open RAN software to specifications laid out by the Joint Operators Technical Specifications for Neutral Host In-Building (JOTS NHIB) systems. The JOTS NHIB initiative is one the schemes proposed by The Small Cell Forum to boost interconnectivity and promote inclusiveness fo service providers. 

After several months of function, compatibility and security tests, Vilicom unveiled a cloud-based complement to patch up VMO2’s existing indoor coverage. The new Vilicom-supplied infrastructure was developed with US telco software specialist Mavenir using its Cloud RAN technology which, Vilicom says has created a fully digital business model in place of a legacy network.

Mavenir developed Cloud RAN

The new Connectivity-as-a Service (CaaS) incarnation now has a full stack of network management and operations and integrated security features. It takes up less space and running costs than inbuilding 4G and paves the way for 5G, public and private mobile connectivity.

The nation needs reliable 4G connectivity indoors and the integration of Vilicom’s virtualised O-RAN platform with all its mobile operators will meet this demand, claimed Sean Keating, CEO of Vilicom.

Offloading traffic from macro cells to the inbuilding networks will save the capacity of macro cells and avoid the cost of expansion.

“This service will translate to significant cost savings and help reduce carbon footprint across the built environment as much of the power intensive infrastructure is hosted off premise in our Data Centre,” said Keating.

Vilicom’s crafting of neutral host in building techniques was the key to improving indoor cellular coverage, said Omar Calvo, Director of Radio Engineering at Virgin Media O2.