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The O2 Arena will host 5G demonstrations in 2018

Visitors to The O2 in London this year will have the opportunity to test out 5G technology. You just won't be able to do so on your smartphone.

Published onFebruary 27, 2018

O2 arena 5G

  • O2, the U.K.’s second-largest telecommunications provider, will showcase 5G technology at its London arena.
  • Since no 5G devices are available to consumers, visitors will have to experience 5G on demonstration equipment.
  • O2 is using the display as an affirmation of its commitment to the new LTE standard.

The second-largest telecommunications service provider in the United Kingdom, O2, is the primary sponsor of The O2 Arena in London. One of the busiest entertainment complexes in the world, the arena’s a perfect spot to showcase what telecommunications on a 5G network will be like for customers.

Last week, O2 announced a 5G network covering the arena and the surrounding attractions would be installed in March. Visitors should be able to test out the 5G network’s capabilities sometime in the second half of 2018.

To be clear, this doesn’t mean you’ll be able to get 5G speeds on your smartphone when visiting the complex. The 5G network O2 is installing will be delivered using “Multi-access Edge Computing,” which essentially means the network will be a virtual simulation. This is similar to what Verizon did at football arenas around the Super Bowl and what Qualcomm did in San Francisco and Frankfurt.

Verizon secretly performed 5G test at Super Bowl LII

The O2 press release on the matter doesn’t explain how visitors will be able to test out 5G speeds, but it’s most likely going to be set areas in the complex with specialized equipment for people to try. O2 says the demonstrations could include virtual reality, augmented reality, and live streaming, but it gives no specifics.

Since there will most likely be no smartphones released with 5G capabilities in 2018, it will be at least the middle of 2019 before any consumer-level products can connect to the simulated network. If O2 is trying to make the entertainment complex a testing hub for 5G technology, it very well could be the first place in London where future 5G-enabled phones will be able to run at their full potential.

“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,” said O2 CEO Mark Evans.

“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 backing the importance of mobile for Britain’s future.”

You can read more about 5G here and why you won’t get to experience it on your current smartphone here.

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