O2 to donate 10,000 phones to Tier 2 and Tier 3 regions

O2 balloon
(Image credit: SM)

O2 revenues fell by 9.5% during the third quarter of 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect usage habits.

The operator reported income of £1.5 billion for three-month period and attributed the reduction to reduced roaming revenues as customers were forced to stay at home and to handset release schedules that affected sales.

However, the number of connections to its network actually rose by 3.8% year-on-year to 35.4 million – a figure which also includes Sky, Tesco Mobile and Lycamobile’s customer base.

O2 Q3 revenues

Just like its competitors, O2 has seen a dramatic rise in traffic during lockdown as customers become increasingly reliant on its network. It has taken steps to boost capacity and ensure no one is left disconnected. However, despite this additional demand, it has been difficult for mobile operators to monetise in the short term.

O2 is confident that investments in 5G and its customer proposition will allow it to return to growth when the climate is more favourable, pointing to an industry-low churn rate of 0.9%.

“it’s our responsibility to be there for our customers, providing fantastic connectivity, the best value and the industry’s leading customer service,” said CEO Mark Evans. “This has especially been true during the pandemic when our customers have needed us more than ever. It is therefore pleasing to see us sustain market-leading loyalty and the highest net promoter score in the sector, as more and more customers choose O2.

“Investment in connectivity has never been more important. At O2 we’re playing our part in future-proofing our nation, planning and building technology for the long term, demonstrated by our continued deployment of 5G and extending coverage even further.”

The first national lockdown laid bare the increasingly vital role of connectivity in society and the potential harm of a digital divide. As restrictions return to many parts of the country, O2 has said it will donate 10,000 devices to those most vulnerable in ‘Tier 2’ and ‘Tier 3’ areas.

It is working with Hubbub to deliver the devices in time for Christmas and has promised to offer free minutes and data. O2 customers can donate their old phones to support the project.

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.