Home5GO2 UK, Microsoft ink partnership to test MEC on private 5G network

O2 UK, Microsoft ink partnership to test MEC on private 5G network



U.K. operator O2, owned by Spanish telco Telefonica, has announced a new partnership with Microsoft in the Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) field, the former said in a release.

The carrier said that the proof-of-concept will deploy on-premise MEC capabilities within a private 5G network.

Under the terms of the partnership, O2 will provide private 5G network capabilities and a range of Industry 4.0 applications, and the computing service will be delivered via Microsoft Azure Private Edge Zones, bringing compute, storage and intelligence to the edge where data is created. The partnership will also see O2 collaborating with Microsoft for startups to support the startup ecosystem in developing new, innovative solutions on 5G.

In February, O2 announced it had launched a private 5G network initiative with Leonardo, a global technology company in the Aerospace, Defense & Security sector. Under this partnership, O2 and Leonardo will investigate several innovative applications of private 5G technology in the defense and security industry. Proposed uses of secure, high-bandwidth mobile data include facilitating next-generation ‘future factory’ manufacturing capabilities and providing high speed and secure information services, both of which will be needed to deliver high-pace programs such as Tempest, which is seeing the UK, Italy and Sweden collaborating to develop future combat air capabilities.

This trial with Microsoft will be similar, however, it will involve MEC to broaden the use cases and benefits, O2 said.

“This particular trial with the Microsoft Azure platform will provide secure and superfast capabilities that will maximize productivity and efficiency, as well as peace of mind,” Jo Bertram, managing director of business at O2, said.

Yousef Khalidi, corporate vice president, Azure for Operators at Microsoft, said: “Through our collaboration with O2, we will enable enterprises to leverage 5G to unlock new scenarios that accelerate digital transformation within their own private, on-premises environments. Combining Azure technology with O2 services is critical to bringing MEC to the enterprise edge, and we look forward to seeing customers leverage this platform to drive innovation across a broad range of information and operational technology applications.”

O2 recently announced that its 5G network already reaches part of 180 towns and cities across the country. O2 launched its 5G network in the UK in October 2019. O2’s 5G network was initially available in certain areas of Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London, Slough and Leeds. The carrier said that the initial focus for its 5G network was on highly populated areas including railway stations, shopping centers and sports stadiums.

The carrier is deploying its 5G infrastructure in partnership with Nordic vendors Ericsson and Nokia.

Last month, O2 and rival operator Vodafone had announced a new deal to trade airwaves to create more efficient blocks of 5G spectrum. The two operators already share mast infrastructure in parts of the U.K.

The carriers noted that this new deal will enable improved coverage for customers — both indoor and outdoor — across urban, suburban and rural areas. They also highlighted that large contiguous blocks support faster speeds and lower latency.

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