In an effort to keep up with the rapidly growing need for mobile data in central London, O2 have announced plans for an £80 million upgrade to expand their London network.
In a collaboration with networking specialist Cisco, O2 will install 1400 new ‘small cells’ across London by the end of 2017.
Small cells are a type of wireless access point – machines that emit a wireless network around them for devices to connect to.
A small cell provides networking for a limited area around it, but is especially effective at providing connectivity both indoors and outside.
O2 is using these cells to deliver “targeted coverage” to certain problematic areas, which will improve availability in those locations as well as lowering overall network congestion for the neighbouring cells.
Congestion is a major issue for network providers to overcome.
80 percent of adults own a smartphone and almost 75 percent regularly use mobile internet services, so it’s no surprise to see networks struggle to keep up with this ever-growing demand for availability and speed.
In addition the 1400 small cell installations, O2 will also be constructing new cell towers and providing more free WiFi hotspots to reduce the strain on their mobile network.
These network improvements are also expected to help set the foundations for the arrival of 5G, which is predicted to arrive around 2020.
We understand the importance of digital connectivity in terms of driving the economy and ensuring that London can continue to compete on a global scale.- Derek McManus: Chief Operating Officer, O2
O2 hopes that network improvements will help to quickly roll out the 5G network when it does finally come.
4G connectivity across London and the UK overall is notoriously poor so there are high hopes that Ofcom and the mobile network providers don’t make the same mistakes with the rollout of 5G. So, investing strongly in network stability will be essential in the coming years.
A study conducted by O2 earlier this year predicts that strong 5G networks could give a potential boost of £7 billion a year to the UK economy.
An £80 million network upgrade seems expensive but, if O2’s economic predictions are correct, it is a no-brainer investment in the future potential of wireless networks.
MAIN IMAGE: By Radu Micu via Flickr