British cellco O2 UK has announced plans to deploy up to 300 small cells across London in partnership with communications infrastructure company Arqiva. Claiming that the project represents ‘one of the biggest outdoor small cell deployments by O2 in the UK to date’, the operator has suggested that, once installed, the new equipment will provide enhanced mobile data capacity and coverage in some of the capital’s busiest boroughs. A long term agreement between O2 and Arqiva will make use of some of the latter’s comprehensive concession contracts with 14 London Boroughs, including Hammersmith and Fulham, Richmond upon Thames, Wandsworth, Camden and Lambeth. Initial sites are expected to go live by ‘summer 2018’, with deployment continuing until 2020. The 300 small cells will be installed on street assets (e.g. lampposts) to deliver targeted coverage and increased capacity in areas where mobile data demand is particularly high, such as at transport hubs and major shopping areas. In addition to its immediate customer benefits, O2 has claimed the network development will ‘lay the foundations for a rapid deployment of 5G connectivity when it becomes available’.
Brendan O’Reilly, O2’s chief technical officer, said of the small cell deployment plans: ‘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. 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.’