O2 will start to equip its London venue, The O2, with 5G network connectivity from March. It will then be available to the public from the second half of 2018.
Initially, 5G will be available to trial in select locations at The O2. The O2 Blueroom and O2 store at the venue will be among those to be connected first. The entire venue should be completely 5G-ready by 2020.
As it is unlikely visitors will have 5G handsets this year, the test bed will offer demonstrations of the network's capabilities. These could include virtual reality, augmented reality and live streaming demos.
"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. That’s why we are delighted to announce our plans to launch a 5G test bed at The O2 later this year," said O2's CEO Mark Evans.
O2 plans to follow up the test bed at The O2 with trials across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It will look at user cases for consumers, businesses and the public sector.
The company will also use this period to test a variety of 5G equipment.