Test network will be available for visitors to enjoy at least two years ahead of expected 5G rollout in Britain

O2 today unveiled plans to launch a 5G test bed at The O2 in North Greenwich later this year, bringing a 5G experience to the world’s most popular entertainment venue. Installation of the network will begin in March, with visitors able to enjoy the technology from the second half of 2018. The move will see O2 leading the way in putting the next generation network technology into the hands of the British public.

The network will initially roll-out across select locations at The O2, including the exclusive O2 blueroom and the O2 store at the venue, with plans to extend coverage across the venue by the end of 2020. It will initially allow O2 customers to experience ground-breaking technology via a variety of customer demonstrations. Demonstrations being assessed for showcasing include virtual reality, augmented reality and live streaming.

The test bed 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, gathering feedback from customers and partners to ensure a future high quality service for customers in the future.

This latest customer initiative from O2 has been designed to ensure the business is 5G ready and primed to launch a leading next generation network for customers when spectrum and equipment availability allow. The installation at The O2 will be 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 London back in 2011.

The announcement builds on O2 and AEG’s ongoing commitment 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. The new 5G network follows the recent ten-year renewal of the partnership and continued joint strategic investment in the connectivity across the venue, resulting in high definition wi-fi and dynamic digital advertising solutions. These initiatives have created a truly immersive experience for fans.

The O2 is the world’s most popular music and entertainment venue. Since opening in 2007, it has been visited by more than 70 million people. On event nights, O2 customers can visit the O2 blueroom with up to three friends simply by using the Priority app. In addition to the arena, The O2 is also home to indigo at The O2, a live performance space; an 11-screen Cineworld complex; Up at The O2, an experience that allows visitors to walk across the roof of The O2; and The Avenue, which features over 26 bars and restaurants.

Mark Evans, CEO of O2, said: “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. 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 and backing the importance of mobile for Britain’s future.”

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.” 

London’s Chief Digital Officer, Theo Blackwell, said: “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.”

About 5G

5G is the next evolution of mobile connectivity that promises a faster and more reliable mobile data connection than is currently available. It will offer a higher bandwidth and lower latency network experience, meaning faster speeds can be achieved with a more reliable network experience for a greater number of devices on a network.

5G will not only improve the experience of how people use mobile networks today but will also unlock a range of completely new services delivered over mobile networks, making the lives of UK citizens easier, safer and more enjoyable.


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