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London's sewers set for 5G makeover

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The sewage tunnels beneath London’s streets are set to receive a modern telecoms transformation.  

Mobile phone network providers O2 and Three have signed up to use the 140-year-old tunnels to carry out a new fibre-optic cable system that will connect around 100 mobile masts in Soho and Mayfair.  

The work is set to be carried out by the telecoms arm of SSE, working closely with Thames Water.  

SSE managing director Colin Semprell said: “With this high-capacity core in the London sewers, Three UK and O2 are tapping into our unique, diverse connectivity and putting their networks in a strong position to trial 5G offerings, while enhancing existing services for their customers.” 

The move signals increasing efforts by mobile providers to move away from connections provided by BT Openreach and reduce their reliance on BT as they rush to meet increasing demand from customers for mobile data.  

Three chief executive Dave Dyson said: “New and innovative models are essential to improving the customer experience of mobile networks and driving competition in the market. Our partnership with SSE and O2 is one of the first examples of using existing infrastructure to improve connectivity in an urban area.” 

Data use is set to increase 13-fold by 2025 and the new connections will provide a much needed boost to some of London’s busiest areas, including the West End and Oxford Street, which is the busiest street in Europe.  

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