Virgin Media deploys 4G/5G smart poles on existing fibre cabinets

02 April 2024

Virgin Media (O2) reports that it has successfully deployed 4G and 5G smart poles on top of its existing fibre broadband cabinets, in collaboration with Liberty Global, to help boost mobile network coverage and capacity.

Virgin Media has 25,000 street cabinets deployed across the UK to serve its fixed line broadband ISP network. The company has also been developing a lot of small cell related deployments to help improve mobile coverage. This latest trial shows that the cabinets can support a supply of both data capacity and power for the cells. The new poles house 4G small cells and are much smaller than traditional phone masts, meaning they don’t require planning permission and can be installed in less than a day.

“In a UK first, the electricity is supplied by Virgin Media’s fibre network rather than a traditional power supply through innovative ‘digital electricity’ technology, which transmits power from on-street cabinets in the local area along fibre optic cables. The same fixed fibre network is also used to carry data to and from the mobile cells and the internet,” said VMO2 in a statement.

“As we continue investing to upgrade and expand our network, we’re always looking for new ways to work smarter and deliver more for our customers. Groundbreaking trials like this can help boost mobile coverage and bring next generation services to even more customers,” said Jeanie York, CTO of VMO2. “The ability to use our existing national fixed network to backhaul and power small cells could be transformational – helping us save time and money, open up new revenue streams, support smart city technology and fully leverage the benefits of our scaled converged network.”