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Virgin Media O2 UK Small Cell Trial Brings Faster 4G to Skegness

Tuesday, Dec 5th, 2023 (11:06 am) - Score 1,720

Mobile operator O2 (VMO2) has successfully boosted their 4G mobile (mobile broadband) capacity across the popular seaside resort of Skegness, which sits in the East Lindsey District of Lincolnshire, England. The enhanced coverage was achieved as part of a small cells trial with IaaS provider Ontix.

Shoebox sized small cells are like mini mobile base stations, which have been designed to deliver limited coverage (usually up to around 80-120 metres) and thus tend to be more focused on busy urban areas or specific sites. As a result, it’s not uncommon to find these sitting on top of lampposts, CCTV poles or old payphone cubicles (i.e. they can be more cost-effective than building new street assets or trying to secure wayleaves on buildings etc.).

Skegness is a fairly good target for such a trial because the town typically welcomes over 2 million holiday visitors every year. As a result, O2 has been working for months to install new mobile equipment to ensure its customers are able to enjoy the best service possible.


In this case, most of the new small cells have been deployed on street lights throughout the town, greatly enhancing network capacity and demonstrating how small cell technology can also be used to transform outdoor connectivity.

Paul Kells, Director of Network Strategy and Engineering at VMO2, said:

“With the largest small cell network of any major operator in the UK, we understand how effective they can be in boosting local network capacity in busy areas.

With upgrade programmes underway right across our network, we’re working hard to ensure our customers consistently receive an exceptional network experience wherever they are and even at the busiest times.”

Richard Williams, Director of Acquisition at Ontix, said:

“The trial in Skegness is yet more proof that small cells deliver the network densification needed to drive the next generation of wireless networks. We were proud to work closely with Virgin Media O2 and provide a complete managed delivery service for this project.

I’m delighted that the Highways team in Lincolnshire County Council provided such fantastic enthusiasm for the initiative and we’re grateful for their ongoing support. Their role as a proactive ‘Willing Landlord’, embracing the Open Access Agreement approach that is championed by the Department for Science, Innovation & Technology (DSIT), simply cannot be overstated.”

VMO2 have been deploying a lot of small cells over the past few years, including well over 1,300 such sites in London (shopping malls, bus shelters etc.), although they’ve since been going beyond the UK’s capital city. The cells are often said to be 5G capable, although at present they’re mostly using 4G bands like 1800MHz and 2.6GHz.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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