Virgin Media O2 has launched its 5G Standalone (5G SA) network in the UK.

The telco has pushed the service live in 14 cities across the country.

In doing so, the operator became the second UK telco to launch 5G SA, after Vodafone launched its service last year.

5G SA is not reliant on older mobile generations and solely uses a 5G core network, and is based on cloud.

The service increases network capacity, cuts latency, and can connect to an increased amount of connected devices.

It will also enable network slicing, which allows telecom operators to create separate and isolated networks for different use cases, while the slice can be configured differently.

"The launch of 5G standalone is the culmination of a multi-year program and is a real leap forward in the evolution of our mobile network," said Jeanie York, chief technology officer at Virgin Media O2.

"While it’s still early days, our customer-centric rollout will continue throughout 2024 with some consumer customers seeing the immediate benefits including increased reliability and coverage. This new technology will future-proof our mobile network for years to come and paves the way for exciting customer-led innovations in the future.”

Virgin Media O2 confirmed that its 5G SA service is available in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Lincoln, Birmingham, Sheffield, Glasgow, Newcastle, Leeds, York, Belfast, Cardiff, Nottingham, and Slough.

In a separate announcement last week, Virgin Media O2, along with major shareholders, Liberty Global and Telefónica, outlined plans to create a national fixed network company to rival BT's Openreach in the UK.

The telco said the NetCo will "underpin full fiber take-up and roll-out," and provide new financing optionality and a platform for potential alternative network (altnet) consolidation opportunities.