VMO2 has sprinkled 1,300 5G small cells across London

UK operator Virgin Media O2 has been busy setting up 5G small cells all around the capital, and it now claims to have more deployed than any other operator in the UK.

In a fairly boastful announcement as these things go, VMO2 insists that it is this 1,300 strong 5G small cell deployment that has helped it be named as the most reliable network in London, according to Global Wireless Solutions. Small cells are designed to be deployed with less disruption than a proper mast and are designed for congested areas.

The firm worked with Cellnex UK, Freshwave, Ontix and the City of London to install the cells, which were usually bolted to existing street furniture, such as lampposts in locations including Southwark, Croydon, Camden and Westminster . The technology uses licensed L18/1800MHz airwaves, with some initial trial locations using 2.6GHz spectrum, and it reckons in busy locations around 20% of network traffic flows through these small cells rather than the macro layer.

The operator also proudly boasts it is the first to create small cell solutions for bus shelters, which sounds boring but is pretty handy when you think of how many bus stops there are in a city like London. These trials, which were carried out with Freshwave, involves new small cells being connected to the fibre within the bus shelters, and it is also trialling a new payphone deployment across sites in Westminster with Cellnex UK.

“This is further good news for London’s digital infrastructure,” said Theo Blackwell, Chief Digital Officer for London. “It comes about through our partnerships on the ground between boroughs and telecommunications, supporting local rollouts. Small cells don’t just mean much better connections, they also boost jobs and growth, helping us to build a better London for everyone. It’s great to see this investment continuing across London.”

Jeanie York, Chief Technology Officer at VMO2 added: “Building a 5G network is a complex job, so we are constantly looking at ways to create efficiencies via collaboration with partners that will ultimately benefit our customers. Technologies such as small cells help us increase network bandwidth, which allows us to keep up with customer demand, with data traffic levels increasing 34% year on year.

“Our Radio Network Engineering team have done a fantastic job to develop our small cell delivery programme. I’m excited to see where this will take us as we look to roll out at scale to provide a more sustainable solution that still provides fast and reliable connectivity for our customers as we upgrade the UK.”

VMO2 plans to expand the network of small cells outside of London with a number of pilots set up across the UK, and a project to deploy them at the Commonwealth Games this summer. In general, there doesn’t appear to be much not to like about them since they provide the ability to whack up connectivity to dense areas without too much city planning and traffic disruption to the surrounding streets, and the operator also takes to opportunity to point out there are environmental benefits to providing connectivity with this technology as well, presumably as opposed to full-scale masts.


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  1. Avatar Chris 30/06/2022 @ 8:53 pm

    Are you truly not aware of the impact of 5G, 4G and wireless frequencies on wildlife such as bees? There is now such overwhelming evidence of this that you cannot ignore it for much longer. All lunacy has its limits. Please see the masses of genuinely independent studies on this subject.

  2. Avatar Bella 01/07/2022 @ 9:14 pm

    Actually Chris, why not save our time, and provide us with links to these studies… please? Please?

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