Arqiva and O2 kick start small cell mission

Arqiva and O2 have announced a new project to deliver 300 small cell sites across some of London’s busiest boroughs to increase connectivity and begin walking the 5G trail.

14 borough have been identified, making use of some of Arqiva’s concession contracts, with work set to begin in the summer, running through to 2020. The 300 small cells will be installed on various bits of street furniture in areas where mobile data demand is particularly high, such as outside train stations or shopping centres.

“New types of mobile infrastructure are now required to meet the needs of the mobile network operators and their customers,” said David Crawford, MD of Telecoms & M2M at Arqiva. “As demand for data continues to increase, the requirement for network densification will grow and use of street furniture and small cells will play a critical role in delivering the mobile networks of the future.”

“National 5G infrastructure – when it arrives in a few years’ time – will not only have a crucial impact on our economy, it will change the way we live our lives,” said Brendan O’Reilly, CTO at O2. “Our partnership with Arqiva reflects this belief and demonstrates our commitment to exploring opportunities to provide the increased capacity and denser coverage our customers deserve in the areas they need it most. Only by working together, with industry partners, regulators, and government policy makers, will we be able to continue delivering the best for our customers and to help the UK maintain the digital leadership we have all worked so hard to establish.”

The announcement might come as a welcome relief for O2 customers, who could get frustrated at the level of service from the telco. According to Opensignal, O2 is consistently the worst performer when ranked against the other MNOs in the UK. London is an area which has notably suffered, though the additional infrastructure might go some way to help. The question which remains is how much.

What hasn’t been said are any specifics to the technology being used. 300 might sounds like a big number to some, or it might sound minor, it all depends on the scale. Depending on the specific products being used, the range could vary from a couple of metres to a few kilometres. 300 might be a useless number or perhaps overkill. As O2 is yet to respond to requests for more information on the tech, who knows.

Perhaps this is part of the big O2 plan; the telco has seems to enjoy playing the connectivity guessing game with its customers, maybe this is just a continuation.

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