O2 said the two trials will pave the way for the future launch of 5G

U.K. carrier O2, owned by Spanish telecom group Telefonica, said it is currently working with Nokia on two massive MIMO trials in London aimed at enhancing connectivity for the telco’s customers and paving the way for the future deployment of 5G across the city.

By trialling this technology in locations with high levels of data traffic, O2 will be able to boost coverage in these areas while also evaluating the technology for future deployment in urban areas. The trials are currently taking place at the Kings Cross/St. Pancras area and in the Marble Arch area.

The pilot uses the 2.3 GHz spectrum that O2 secured earlier this year in the spectrum auction carried out by the U.K. government. O2 won 40 megahertz of spectrum for £318 million. BT-owned EE also won 40 megahertz for which it paid £303 million, while Three secured 20 megahertz of 3.4 GHz spectrum at a cost of £151.3 million. Vodafone won 50 megahertz of spectrum in the 3.4G Hz frequency band after paying £378 million.

O2 also said massive MIMO technology is expected to help deliver the demand for increased data usage that is expected once 5G technology is rolled out.

O2 added that it will evaluate the results of the ongoing trials with a view to potentially deploying the technology in additional areas in London.

“We recognise that customers’ need for mobile data in London and other urban areas continues to grow at a rapid pace. This is why we are working with Nokia to trial massive MIMO and to explore the opportunities to provide the increased capacity and denser coverage for our customers, in the areas they need it most,” said Brendan O’Reilly, CTO, Telefonica U.K.

“Nokia’s massive MIMO technology in conjunction with Telefonica’s investment in new spectrum will considerably enhance and increase the capacity of Telefonica’s network and directly address customer demands, ensuring an ever-greater customer experience” said Paul Kander, manager of Telefonica UK account at Nokia.

In July, O2 said it had invited companies in the FTSE 100 Index to participate in O2’s 5G trials. O2 said it aims to work with a number of FTSE 100 businesses to understand the processes and use cases that would benefit from the deployment of 5G technology.

Earlier this year, the telco announced plans to launch a 5G testbed at the O2 venue in North Greenwich during the second half of 2018. The company also said that the network will initially roll-out across select locations at The O2, including the exclusive O2 blueroom and the O2 store at the venue, with plans to extend coverage across the venue by the end of 2020.

The U.K. government had previously allocated £25 million in new funding to six 5G pilots across the country. The six projects are run by small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), universities and local authorities. The pilots will each help to pave the way for the roll out of 5G technology in the coming years, the government said.

The selected pilots will test 5G across a range of applications, including smart farming with drones, using the internet of things (IoT) to improve healthcare in the home, increasing manufacturing productivity and maximizing the future benefits of self-driving cars.

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