O2 is gearing up for the launch of its 5G network by improving its coverage in major indoor spaces such as shopping centres and sports arenas.
The operator plans to launch 5G later this year in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London before expanding to other parts of the country in 2020.
Over the past 18 months, the Telefonica-owned operator has taken a number of steps to facilitate the launch. Like its rivals, it secured 3.4GHz spectrum at the Ofcom auction last year, earlier in 2019 it expanded its network infrastructure sharing agreement with Vodafone to cover 5G.
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However, 5G networks will require many new sites due to the low range of the spectrum. This has made micro infrastructure such as small cells necessary for dense urban areas and indoor locations.
O2’s partnership with the Wireless Infrastructure Group will see coverage improved in a variety of public spaces, including Bluewater shopping centre in Kent, Liverpool’s Anfield stadium and Lord’s Cricket Ground.
“While we look ahead to 5G we also continue to focus on our existing network capability. We strive to deliver a great network experience to all our customers, including some of the UK’s busiest locations where network demand is at its peak,” said Brendan O’ Reilly, O2 CTO.
“Our multi-million pound investment with our partners at WIG should provide O2 customers with even better connectivity in the places they love to visit.”
The announcement came alongside the news that O2’s Q1 revenue increased by 5.3 per cent for £1.475 million, driven by the ongoing success of the operator’s custom plans. There are now 32.7 million users on the network, a figure which includes MVNO connections. O2 has 25.1 million subscribers itself, adding 13,000 users during the past three months as churn stood at 0.9 per cent.
“This is another good set of results building on our momentum from 2018. We have delivered further revenue and customer growth underpinned by our award-winning network and market-leading loyalty,” said O2 CEO Mark Evans.
“2019 is an exciting year for O2. In addition to progressing our 5G plans, we are working to establish an industry-led shared rural network for the benefit of consumers and businesses across the UK. This demonstrates our commitment to invest for the future with mobile connectivity one of the UK’s most powerful opportunities to strengthen the economy and improve the lives of British people.”
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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.