Telecommunications company O2 has confirmed that it will begin testing 5G technology solutions at The O2 in London this year.

O2 will begin installing the network next month and it is expected to be fully operational by the second half of 2018. O2 said the move shows that the company is “leading the way in putting the next generation network technology into the hands of the British public”.

The network will initially be fitted in select locations at the multi-purpose venue, including the exclusive O2 blueroom and the O2 store. It is hoped the coverage will be arena-wide by 2020. Technology that will be facilitated by the 5G network will include virtual reality, augmented reality and live streaming.

O2 will deliver the test bed through multi-access edge computing. The company said that, in time, the network would be used to test a range of equipment and potentially use cases for 5G under live conditions. The O2 roll-out is set to be the first in a number of trials across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

O2 chief executive Mark Evans 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 backing the importance of mobile for Britain’s future.”

The arena’s general manager, John Langford, added: “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.”

The initiative ties in with O2’s and AEG’s plans to enhance the fan experience at The O2, one of the world’s most popular venues in terms of ticket sales. In February 2017, O2 extended its naming-rights agreement with the venue by a further 10 years until 2027.

The arena hosts tennis’ ATP World Tour Finals, NBA basketball fixtures, boxing matches and a range of high-profile music events.

Image: David Jones