Virgin Media O2 beats EE and Three to test new signal boosting tech

Virgin Media O2 beats EE and Three to test new signal boosting tech


Virgin Media O2 has become the first carrier to successfully test a new mobile signal boosting technology. Dubbed Neutral Host In-Building (NHIB), the system is designed to increase the signal indoors for 4G and 5G networks. This will be used in business and public venues, so you won't lose the signal in car parks, shopping centres, offices, and more.

Although Virgin Media O2 was the first to test NHIB, the technology will work across all mobile networks. So, if the signal boosting system is installed in your local library or train station, your 4G signal from Three or Vodafone will be upgraded so you can continue to send text messages, reply to WhatsApp messages and make calls indoors.

The first test was carried out in London’s Canary Wharf in an unspecified workplace.

With one trial under their belt, we'd expect to see more mobile carriers push ahead with tests of this new technology. As millions leave their homes and return to the office, bringing strong 4G and 5G signals across public and enterprise buildings is hugely important. While there are often public Wi-Fi networks available – many free to join – these often require users to hand over some personal information, including name, email address and phone number to gain access.

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That's not something that everyone will be comfortable with. Without a VPN activated on your device, it's possible for gadgets to be vulnerable to a man-in-the-middle style attack, where a scam artist connected to the same Wi-Fi network can intercept traffic from your smartphone, tablet or computer – including key details like payment information during the checkout process, text messages, and more.

Relying on your existing 4G or 5G network in a busy public building removes that risk.

Speaking about the successful trial by Virgin Media O2, director of radio engineering for the company, Omar Calvo said: “Customer experience and mobile connectivity is central to our values and the businesses we support. To deliver a great Virgin Media O2 network experience inside buildings, we are joining with several different industry partners, including Freshwave, to build state-of-the-art shared in-building small cell solutions.

“This technology is aligned to the new JOTS Neutral Host In-Building (NHIB) specification, an initiative led by Virgin Media O2. I’m proud to say Virgin Media O2 is the first UK mobile network operator to support live calls on NHIB small cells and we see this as an exciting milestone for Virgin Media O2 and we believe it will transform the way mobile coverage is delivered into offices and indoor public venues.”

With any luck, we'll hear more about the progress of this industry-standard technology soon.



Written by David Minister

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