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O2 to provide 5G for autonomous car testbed in London

UK telco O2 has signed an agreement to provide 5G connectivity for the testing of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) in the Smart Mobility Living Lab (SMLL) in London, the carrier said in a release.

O2 said that its 3.4 GHz “5G-ready” spectrum will enable car manufacturers, self-driving technology companies, start-ups and other private and public organizations involved in the transport ecosystem to test both vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-road communications (V2X) in a real-world environment.

SMLL is a government backed CAV testbed based in the Royal Borough of Greenwich and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.  O2 has now agreed to collaborate with SMLL to provide 5G connectivity to the testbed.

O2 highlighted that the high capacity of 5G allows for vehicles to transmit large amounts of data, including 4K video, to intelligent cloud-based transport systems, which are expected to improve road safety and help traffic authorities to monitor and manage traffic flow.

“We know that the transport sector is going to be one of the key beneficiaries of 5G – and that the technology has the potential to reduce traffic congestion, as well as making journeys safer and more enjoyable,” said Brendan O’Reilly, O2’s CTO. “That’s why we’re excited to be working with the teams at the Smart Mobility Living Lab, who are driving forward our understanding how this next generation technology will fundamentally change the fabric of the cities in which we live and work as well as creating entirely new methods of travel.”

Paul Campion, CEO of TRL, said: “5G is a technology that supports a successful rollout of self-driving cars in the UK. Smart Mobility Living Lab (SMLL) research shows that over a third of industry leaders from the transport, technology and automotive industries think investment in strengthening the UK’s digital infrastructure is a key step for making self-driving cars commercially available in the UK. By working with O2, we are ensuring that SMLL is not just a real-world testing environment for self-driving cars today; we are future-proofing the testbed so that we can accelerate our customers’ research and development programs.”

O2, owned by Spanish telecom giant Telefonica, launched its commercial 5G network in the U.K. last month.

O2’s 5G network is now available in certain areas of Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London, Slough and Leeds. O2’s initial focus for its 5G network is on highly populated areas including railway stations, shopping centers and sports stadiums.

The telco said that its 5G network will be live in a total of 20 towns and cities by the end of the year, and 50 by summer 2020. 

O2’s 5G network infrastructure is being rolled out in partnership with Ericsson and Nokia, following a competitive tender earlier this year. 

The new 5G network will supplement O2’s existing 4G connectivity, which remains the backbone of the network. O2 currently offers 4G in almost 19,000 cities, towns and villages across the UK.

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