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O2 boosts indoor network capacity to prep for 5G

O2 has been working with the Wireless Infrastructure Group to enhance mobile connectivity indoors and in public spaces

Liverpool’s Anfield stadium, Lord’s Cricket Ground, and shopping malls including Kent’s Bluewater, Manchester’s Trafford Centre and Sheffield’s Meadowhall are receiving upgraded 4G network coverage through a partnership between mobile operator O2 and Wireless Infrastructure Group (WIG), laying the groundwork for a 5G network launch later in 2019.

Like many of its competitors, O2 is targeting heavily trafficked public areas for its latest upgrade because one of the potential early use cases for 5G will likely be to enhance coverage in the sort of places where users frequently see capacity problems – besides stadia and shopping, centres this also includes large hotels, mainline stations, conference centres and commercial office developments.

O2 claimed that crowdsourced data from the Trafford Centre had already shown a 50% improvement in network performance in the area.

“While we look ahead to 5G, we also continue to focus on our existing network capability,” said O2 chief technology officer Brendan O’Reilly.

“We strive to deliver a great network experience to all our customers, including some of the UK’s busiest locations where network demand is at its peak. Our multi-million pound investment with our partners at WIG should provide O2 customers with even better connectivity in the places they love to visit.”

Scott Coates, WIG CEO, added: “WIG’s neutral-host infrastructure now enables mobile services in offices, shopping malls, hotels, stadiums and other public venues that total over one billion visitors a year.

“Neutral host infrastructure can play a vital role enabling 5G and WIG looks forward to expanding its successful partnership with O2.”

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At the same time, O2 parent company Telefónica UK has unveiled its Q1 results, with sales up 5.3% year-on-year to £1.48bn and operating income up 3.4% to £440m. The firm said its total base was up 2.3% to 32.7 million and it scored 13,000 net new additions during the quarter – 220,000 when machine-to-machine and internet of things devices are accounted for.

“This is another good set of results building on our momentum from 2018. We have delivered further revenue and customer growth underpinned by our award-winning network and market-leading loyalty.

“We are committed to making every day better, providing customers with compelling reasons to join and stay with us through attractive propositions such as O2 Custom Plans,” said Telefónica UK CEO Mark Evans.

It cited a number of business highlights in the past three months as it moved towards 5G, including the announcement of the first locations in its 5G roll-out, the expansion of its Wayra accelerator hubs to support 5G innovation, an enhanced 5G network-sharing agreement with Vodafone, and network support for the ongoing connected and autonomous vehicle trials at Bedfordshire’s Millbrook Proving Ground.

The firm also recently announced it has extended its paid paternity leave scheme to 14 weeks for all permanent employees, including same-sex couples, adoptive parents and surrogate partners.

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