O2 plans to build on its 5G launch last month by expanding coverage and powering a driverless vehicle testbed in London.
The company was the last major operator to offer 5G, switching on its network in parts of five major cities (Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds and London) and Slough. This was accompanied by the launch of unlimited plans.
Meanwhile, the Telefonica-owned operator has consolidated its B2B operations into a single unit, O2 Business, as it seeks to capture more of the market and serve customers with a wider range of services.
Revenues increased by 4.1 per cent to £1.6 billion over the past three months, while the number of users on the network, a figure which includes customers of MVNO partners such as Sky Mobile, Tesco Mobile and Giffgaff, rose by 5.6 per cent to 34.1 million. O2 itself now has 26 million customers.
“As the UK’s largest network, we’re proud of our ability to keep attracting and retaining customers, which ensures a healthy business and drives both top and bottom line growth,” said O2 CEO Mark Evans.
“Our Q3 performance continues the strong momentum we saw in the first half of the year, powered by a relentless focus on our customers through award-winning coverage and great offerings such as flexible Custom Plans and limitless data.
“We’re moving at pace with our 5G rollout, already live in six UK cities rising to twenty by the end of the year. 5G offers critical support to the UK’s digital economy, supporting jobs and growth. That’s why we welcome Ofcom’s recent statement updating the rules for the planned auction of more 5G airwaves. This will help operators to deliver greater value and better connectivity to the public.”
O2 will provide 3.4GHz spectrum for a trial of 5G driverless cars in the London starting in the Spring. The capital is viewed as an ideal testbed because of its dense population and complex street layout. Partners in the ‘Smart Mobility Lab’ project include Cisco, DG Cities, TRL and Loughborough University. The first trials will take place in Greenwich and at the Olympic Park in Stratford.
O2 has already provided the spectrum to the Millbrook Proving Ground vehicle testing facility in Bedford, which is currently host to a 5G testbed. Here O2 also provides the connectivity for trials involving connected and autonomous vehicles, while it has also been involved in smart ambulance tests.
“We know that by powering the transport sector we can make a real difference to consumers by reducing traffic congestion, making journeys safer and faster,” added Brendan O’Reilly, O2 CTO.
“We’re excited to be working with the teams at the Smart Mobility Living Lab, who are driving forward our understanding how this next generation technology will fundamentally change the fabric of the cities in which we live and work as well as creating entirely new ways to travel.”
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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.