O2 launches pilot to boost London network ahead of 5G

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The test will utilise the 2.3GHz spectrum acquired for £205.8m

O2 has today launched a pilot utilising new radio technology to enhance 4G signal in London and pave the way for 5G launch next year.

Nokia will provide the equipment on two massive MIMO (Multiple-input multiple-output) trials in Kings Cross and Marble Arch to enhance connectivity for O2 customers  pave the way for 5G rollout.

Massive MIMO masts allows the transmitting and receiving of more than one data signal simultaneously over the same radio channel, using multiple antennas.

The operator said by trialling the technology in locations with high levels of data traffic, it will be able to boost coverage in these areas whilst also evaluating the technology for future deployment in urban areas.

Over 95 million people travel through the Kings Cross St Pancras area every year and over 14 million passed through Marble Arch area last year, according to Transport for London data.

The pilot uses the additional 2.3GHz spectrum that O2 secured earlier this year in the spectrum auction. O2 was the only UK network to secure extra 2.3GHz capacity to boost its existing network, it spent £205.8m on the band.

O2 chief technology officer Brendan O’Reilly said: “We recognise that customers’ need for mobile data in London and other urban areas continues to grow at a rapid pace. This is why we are working with Nokia to trial Massive MIMO and to explore the opportunities to provide the increased capacity and denser coverage for our customers, in the areas they need it most.”

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