O2 5G expands to 100 UK towns and cities

(Image credit: O2)

O2 says it has at least some 5G coverage in 100 towns and cities, adding 40 locations in little over four months.

The operator switched on its first 5G masts in October, covering the four UK capitals – Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, and London – as well as Leeds and its home of Slough in Berkshire. Since then it has expanded coverage to other major cities and large towns.

O2 has also participated in several trials of 5G in the utilities, automotive and health sectors, while it has also opened accelerators that allow business and public sector organisations to test out new applications.

O2 5G

While 5G coverage is far from ubiquitous – most locations will still be heavily reliant on 4G – the operator is keen to publicise the scope of its network ahead of the launch of the iPhone 12 tomorrow.

Although there are several compatible handsets already available on the market, the arrival the first 5G iPhone is expected to stimulate unprecedented demand. O2 is also keen to point out that it doesn’t charge a premium for 5G, offers unlimited tariffs, while its ‘Refresh’ offering separates the handset and airtime components of a contract.

“When we launched 5G last October, we said it was the first step on a journey,” said Derek McManus, O2 Chief Operating Officer. “One year on and we have made some incredible progress, not just in terms of our roll-out but in bringing about new capabilities that will make real changes to people’s everyday lives.

“No one could have predicted the way this year has turned out, and that almost overnight, customers would turn to their networks more than ever before to keep them connected to loved ones, colleagues and suppliers. Connectivity has never been more important, and we want our network to continue to raise the bar.

“We firmly believe 5G has a role in helping to rebuild Britain, unlocking huge possibilities for our economy and society. We’re excited to keep pushing ahead with our rollout along with our partners Ericson and Nokia, to keep supporting our customers, businesses and society.”

O2 has released new data showing that voice traffic on its network rose by 57% the day the UK went into lockdown while data consumption has risen by 50% in some cities. It has reacted by doubling the capacity of its voice network and boosting 4G across 91,000 postcodes.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.