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Virgin Media O2-Led Project Trials Secure Public and Private 5G Network

Mobile UK

4 min read Partner content
  • A Virgin Media O2-led project utilises the new SEPP roaming interface to connect a public & private 5G network
  • The consortium has been trialling a new way of connecting networks together which is relatively low cost, secure and scalable
  • 5G DRIVE paves the way for Private Networks becoming more available for customers
  • Consortium partners are wavemobile, Cisco, Ori and WMG at the University of Warwick

The 5G DRIVE (Diversified oRAN Integration & Vendor Evaluation) project led by Virgin Media O2 and part-funded by the DCMS has completed its first trials, which saw the consortium successfully trial a new secure network connection capability for integrating private and public networks to form a network of networks.

The ambition of 5G DRIVE is to provide a path for tier 2 RAN vendors to enter the market with their products and solutions, supporting the Government’s diversification agenda. A key element of this is helping private networks integrate into Mobile Network Operators (MNO’s) networks. This is accomplished via the new SEPP N32 (c/f) roaming interface, a novel architecture for Advanced Private & Public Networks.

The first trials, completed in June at the wavemobile 5G test lab demonstrated significant progress, with a new solution that is simple, scalable, and secure and already on the horizon. The team established an end-to-end test system, the first step to enabling Private Networks to join a new ‘network of networks’, delivering carrier grade security to enterprise using tried and tested technologies.

The next phase of the programme will see further trials to establish and test an ‘Ori’ containerised Core Network, a Cisco Cloud core as a service network, and further investigations into scaling aspects of private & public 5G roaming. The trials will culminate with several simulated corporate customers, with a 5G Private Networks deployed using Multiple Access Edge Computing.

Dr David Owens, Head of Technical Trials at Virgin Media O2 and the 5G DRIVE project lead, said:

“This is a significant first step in our mission to create new solutions that provide vendor agnostic integration capability, driving forward the secure connectivity for private networks, and helping to deliver on the promise of 5G “network of networks”. The ambition of the 5G DRIVE project is that it will provide a scalable solution, that doesn’t impact public networks and will deliver carrier grade security, something we are all incredibly excited about.”

Anthony Timson, Technical Director at wavemobile said:

“wavemobile is excited to be championing the proliferation of 5G technology into private networks. This initial phase of the project demonstrates the capabilities of 5G and provides reassurance to public Mobile Network Operators that private network deployments are secure and can be integrated in a scalable manner.”

Dr Mark Grayson, Cisco Fellow at Cisco, said:

“Simplification and scaling of private 5G solutions is critical to ensure we can harness the full potential of 5G. This is an exciting first step in defining how best to integrate private networks with established public systems, affordably, securely and at scale, providing a solid foundation for us to move on to the next stage of trials.”

Mahdi Yahya, Chief Executive Officer at Ori Industries said:

“The status quo in how we build and operate networks is rapidly changing. The continued deployment of 5G in the enterprise space at reduced costs and faster speeds enables modern organisations to become end-to-end service providers. We are pleased to be playing a part in this transformation alongside our partners in the 5G Drive programme empowering telecom operators and enterprises enabling the roll out of new services for their users.

Carsten Maple, Professor of Cyber Systems Engineering and Director of the NCSC-EPSRC Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security, at the University of Warwick. said:

“In WMG at the University of Warwick we are committed to undertaking basic and applied research to ensure the security, resilience, and prosperity of the UK. We are pleased to work in such a powerful consortium to deliver the 5G DRIVE project that will have a significant national and international impact. These methods we are developing and demonstrating will allow diversity in the 5G supply chain, allowing the safe, secure, and trustworthy integration of private and public networks.”

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