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5G

O2 hires new radio boss after splitting CTO role

O2 has named Omar Calvo its director of radio engineering following the departure of Brendan O'Reilly, its chief technology officer (CTO), in January.

The UK mobile operator owned by Spain's Telefónica is splitting the CTO role in two, Light Reading has learned. Calvo will have full responsibility for the radio part of the network while Jorge Ribeiro oversees core network and IT infrastructure, a job he was previously doing under O'Reilly.

The update comes after O'Reilly left O2 at the start of the year to become chief technology officer of Canada-based BAI Communications, a telecom infrastructure company.

Calvo moves across from Telefónica México, where he has worked as chief technology and information officer since November 2019, according to his LinkedIn profile. He has worked for the Telefónica group since 2006.

The changes will give him responsibility for radio operations, access delivery, radio strategy, operational support systems and tools, radio programs and end-to-end design and performance, Light Reading understands.

Ribeiro, in turn, will look after core engineering, core infrastructure cloud services, core operations and core and IT infrastructure. He will also shape the 5G rollout strategy.

The reasons for the shake-up are unclear at this stage but they come with O2 partway through its deployment of 5G services.

Its radio access network is shared equally between Ericsson and Nokia, while Ericsson also appears to be the provider of O2's mobile core, the control center of the network.

That has left the Telefónica-owned business in a more enviable position than its three network rivals, all of which have relied to varying degrees on Huawei.

Government authorities last year gave them until 2028 to remove the controversial Chinese equipment vendor from their 5G networks. Each must also ensure Huawei accounts for no more than 35% of the network by January 2023.


Want to know more about 5G? Check out our dedicated 5G content channel here on Light Reading.


The division of network and IT responsibilities also comes in advance of O2's likely merger with Virgin Media, the UK's only big cable operator.

Competition authorities have yet to sign off on that deal, which would create a major rival to BT with both fixed and mobile infrastructure.

Today's move will prompt speculation that a CTO appointment for the combined company will be announced once the transaction is done.

Virgin Media's current CTO is Jeanie York, a long-serving executive at parent company Liberty Global who took up her current role in January 2019.

York previously had responsibility for Liberty's network operations across ten European countries, several of which it has now quit.

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— Iain Morris, International Editor, Light Reading

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