O2 boosts LTE services in London with new 2.3GHz spectrum, taps Arqiva for small cells

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Telefónica’s O2 has launched its first 4G services in the spectrum it acquired from last week’s auction and announced a new agreement to roll out small cells in the UK’s capital.

The operator’s new chunk of 2.3GHz spectrum is now being used to provide connectivity at 60 sites across London.
O2 plans to reach 100 sites by the end of April and to upgrade another 1,000 sites across the country over the next nine months.

The services uses TD-LTE, which alternates between transmit and receive via the same frequency, as opposed to FDD which transmits and receives continually in separate paired frequencies.

O2 also announced plans to deploy 300 small cells across London to provide better mobile coverage in the city.

The agreement with Arqiva will see the operator making use of the vendor’s contracts with 14 London boroughs to install the cells in street furniture.

The first sites will be live by summer 2018, with deployment to continue until 2020. They will be used to support 5G when the technology becomes available.

Brendan O’Reilly, CTO at O2, said: “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.

“Only by working together, with industry partners, regulators, and government policy makers, will we be able to continue delivering the best for our customers and to help the UK maintain the digital leadership we have all worked so hard to establish.”

David Crawford, Managing Director, Telecoms & M2M at Arqiva, said: “New types of mobile infrastructure are now required to meet the needs of the mobile network operators and their customers.

“As demand for data continues to increase, the requirement for network densification will grow and use of street furniture and small cells will play a critical role in delivering the mobile networks of the future.”

O2 was seen to emerge from last week’s spectrum auction as the big winner, acquiring bandwidth in both the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz bands.