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Making O2 5G a reality – Martin Riley

Here at O2, we are very excited about the possibilities of 5G and its potential to change the way we live and work. The rollout of our 5G network is well underway and is now available in areas of Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London, Slough and Leeds. By the end of the year, we’re aiming to bring our 5G network to parts of 20 towns and cities, before rolling out to a total of 50 by summer 2020. 

Behind O2’s 5G rollout is a dedicated and diverse team of people, even more excited than the rest of us about the benefits that 5G will bring.

Meet Martin Riley – Corporate Provisioning Manager at O2

What do you do at O2? What part of the 5G delivery are you involved in?

I manage the Networks team responsible for the design and delivery of all in-building coverage solutions which includes our O2 stores, O2 Business customer offices, major transport hubs, shopping centres, arenas and stadiums. My team is working on dedicated 5G solutions for locations like these, as well as for some of our O2 Academy venues and Telefónica UK offices.

How did you end up doing what you do?

I discovered telecoms accidentally when I took a temporary summer job to pay off my overdraft after graduating from university. My degree was in electronic engineering and so I figured that these new-fangled mobile phones might actually take off!

My first permanent job was on the paging network, and then I transferred to the mobile network a few years later. Over the years I’ve been involved with radio planning, optimisation, estates management and service management, and my current role combines all of these.

What do you see as the biggest impact that 5G will have?

Having supported the business team and their customers for more than ten years, I’m really excited about the opportunities that 5G brings to support automation in industry. We are witnessing a drive towards what has been termed “lights out manufacturing”, where factories are fully automated.

For example, in the Netherlands, Philips uses lights-out manufacturing to produce electric razors, where 128 robots are at work 24 hours a day. I foresee 5G as a real step change over how previous generations of mobile technology have been employed in these environments. It’s a space I’m watching with interest.

What’s different about 5G through your eyes?

5G has been designed from the bottom up, and it has both the speed and low latency to become a smart connectivity platform that can be harnessed across a range of industrial applications. It really does feel like we are on the precipice of significant change.

What gets you energised in the morning for the day ahead?

No matter what’s on my to-do list at the start of the day, something will happen that requires a change of focus and prioritisation. I love that every day is different and feel invigorated by the continual opportunities to learn new things and develop new skills.

What’s the one small thing in life that always makes you smile?

I was brought up in a family where my brother supported Everton and I supported Liverpool, something that caused many disagreements over the years. So I always tease my young nephew by telling him that he can’t come into the house unless he removes his Everton football shirt. My brother’s early indoctrination of his son is clearly an abuse of power which cannot go unchallenged!

How do you switch off and wind down?

Music is a passion and I find that playing the banjo and bass guitar is a great distraction. I’ve played in bands for over 20 years and a lot of my management style comes from collaborating with other musicians, learning how to make sure that the whole exceeds the sum of its parts and ensuring that every player, no matter their ability, can be heard.

How long would you survive a full digital detox for?

I’d only survive about five minutes at work but I’m confident that I’d manage a few days if I was away walking in a suitably remote and rugged location.

What are you most excited about that the future will bring?

What I love most about technology is that it’s changing so fast that we can only see a very short way into the future. I find it so exciting that you never know what the next revolutionary product is going to be!


You can keep up to date with the latest 5G news from O2 Business by subscribing to this blog, or via Twitter @o2businessuk.


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