Networks are big on sponsoring real locations, and they do love turning those locations into testing ground for new mobile signal. EE's done it with Wembley quite a lot, and now O2 is doing something similar at the O2 Arena and turning it into a test bed for 5G.
The idea is that people will be able to go to the O2 and try 5G for themselves. Construction on the network is set to begin next month, and the goal is to have it available for public use in the second half of this year. 5G will only be initially available in select areas, like the O2 Blueroom and O2 Store, but plans are in place to cover the whole building by 2020. Demonstrations will include augmented and virtual reality plus live streaming.
But the whole thing is less of a publicity stunt, and more of a real-world test for O2 and the plans it has for the 5G rollout. The idea being that it can equipment and possible applications under live, real-world conditions, and get precious customer feedback in the process. So my guess is that it won't function perfectly, and over the course of the testing O2 will improve things until it reaches a satisfactory level.
For those of you who don't live in London, or can;t be bothered to deal with the trek to Greenwich, the extra good news is that this won't be the last 5G test O2 does. There are plans to implement a number of them across England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, with the intention of looking at potential use of 5G for consumers, the public sector, and business.
Mark Evans, CEO of O2, 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 and backing the importance of mobile for Britain’s future.”