O2 to launch consumer 5G trials at The O2

22 February 2018 | Natalie Bannerman

O2 is to launch a 5G testbed at its sports and entertainment venue, The O2 Arena, in North Greenwich.

Installation of the network is due to begin in March 2018 and visitors will be able to experience the technology from the second half of 2018.

The technology will initially be rolled out to specific locations at the O2 including the O2 blueroom and the O2 store, with plans to extend the coverage to the entire venue by the end of 2020.

John Langford, general manager of The O2, commented: "We are delighted that our partner O2 has chosen our venue for the first test of this exciting new mobile technology. It is a clear demonstration of their deep commitment to improving the customer and fan experience at The O2 through innovative technology. We’re excited to see 5G in action and know it will deliver clear benefits for O2 customers who visit."

Once installation has begun O2 customers will initially only be able to experience the 5G technology through a number of customer demonstrations. These include: virtual reality, augmented reality and live streaming.

The trials will be delivered using 'Multi-access Edge Computing’ (MEC) and is configured for virtualisation of core 5G network technologies. In time, O2 will use the network to test a variety of equipment and potential use cases for 5G under live conditions and gathering feedback from customers and partners.

O2 say that this initiative will ensure that the business is 5G ready and prepared to launch a next-gen network for its customers when the spectrum and equipment for 5G are available.

The news builds on a commitment made by O2 and AEG to enhance the fan experience at The O2 before, during and after each event, as they strive to set the industry benchmark for live entertainment. This trial aligns itself with the ten-year renewal of partnership between the two parties.

"The arrival of 5G technology, and the range of unprecedented benefits it will bring, will play a key role in keeping our society and the British economy moving for years to come, said Mark Evans, CEO of O2. "That’s why we are delighted to announce our plans to launch a 5G test bed at The O2 later this year. At O2, we are obsessive about always delivering for our customers, and this test bed is a further example of our pioneering attitude to putting our customers first and backing the importance of mobile for Britain’s future."

This testbed at The O2 marks only the first in a number of trials in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that will look at uses for 5G for consumers, businesses and the public sector. It follows a similar approach taken by the business when it was the first to launch a live 4G trial in

"O2's decision to bring 5G technology to one of the world's most iconic entertainment venues reinforces London's status as a global leader in digital innovation and investment. I want London to be the world's leading smart city and these 5G trials at The O2 will give visitors an early opportunity to experience the enhanced services that can be supported by 5G digital connectivity. This move by O2 is good news for London and its future," added Theo Blackwell, London's chief digital officer.

Topics: O2, North Greenwich, 5G, John Langford, Mark Evans, Theo Blackwell, AEG, Arena