Mobile network operator O2 has agreed to join the UK’s largest real-world connected and autonomous vehicle testbed, where its 5G network will be used to test the capabilities of driverless vehicles in London.
The telco will join the London-based Smart Mobility Living Lab (SMLL) alongside members like Cisco, TfL and Loughborough University.
The SMLL is running tests on 15 miles of roads monitored by roadside sensors and camera systems. 5G powered tests using O2’s network will start in Spring 2020 on the SMLL’s testbed in Greenwich and at the Olympic Park in Stratford.
O2 5G Can Help “Underpin AV Use Cases”
Trevor Dorling, managing director of smart city developers DG Cities, noted: “The ‘connected’, in connected and autonomous vehicles is critically important as it enables advanced safety features such as vulnerable road user alerts or dangerous intersection warnings to work, making city streets safer.
“5G underpins these use cases and offers further benefits to people and businesses. This latest collaboration with O2 and SMLL will enable us to better understand the potential applications of this new technology.”
O2’s internal research predicts that a 5G enabled road network could save the UK’s economy £880 million and reduce CO2 emissions by 370,000 metric tonnes per year, by allowing the transmission of near-real time data including 4k video to intelligent cloud-based systems that can help to monitor and manage traffic flow.
O2 Revenue Growth
The news came as O2, operating as Telefónica UK Limited, reported quarterly earnings. Total revenue grew by 4.1 per cent over the last year. Telefónica’s UK mobile network had a total of 34.1 million customers at the end of September 2019.
The firm’s revenue increase is associated with a drive in handset revenues as customers opt to buy more expensive mobile smart devices.
Handset revenue was up by 22.1 percent y-o-y as ‘customer appetite for high value handsets’ landed the company £501 million.
The company’s involvement with the UK government’s Smart Metering Implementation Programme was also credited with driving additional revenue growth this year.
In its earnings report Telefonica notes that: “The expansion of the mobile network and fibre access in Europe is accelerating through the network sharing agreements, which will reduce the resources needed to increase coverage and quality of service. It is worth highlighting the agreements signed with Vodafone, in the United Kingdom for 5G deployment.”
As such the firm is looking to expand its existing network sharing agreement with Vodafone to ‘facilitate a faster roll-out of 5G for customers’.
O2 was the last UK mobile operator to turn on its 5G network. It currently offers services in the cities of Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London and Leeds.
Mark Evans, CEO, Telefónica UK commented on the earning results that: “Our Q3 performance continues the strong momentum we saw in the first half of the year, powered by a relentless focus on our customers through award-winning coverage and great offerings such as flexible Custom Plans and limitless data.”
“We’re moving at pace with our 5G rollout, already live in six UK cities rising to twenty by the end of the year. 5G offers critical support to the UK’s digital economy, supporting jobs and growth. That’s why we welcome Ofcom’s recent statement updating the rules for the planned auction of more 5G airwaves. This will help operators to deliver greater value and better connectivity to the public.”