O2 is to roll out the 2.3GHz spectrum it won at the recent Ofcom auction to more than 1,000 sites by the end of 2018.
The Telefonica-owned operator won the most bandwidth in the sale, securing 40MHz of 2.3GHz airwaves and 40MHz of 3.4GHz, which can be used for 5G in the future, at a cost of £524 million.
The deployment will be a significant boost to its 4G network, which has been ranked last in several industry benchmarks, such as those conducted by Rootmetrics. O2 has dismissed the validity of these tests in the past, but can now make improvements.
Although O2 possess valuable long-range 800MHz spectrum ideal for coverage, it failed to win any of the 2.6GHz, which delivers superior capacity, at the 2013 auction, while EE, Three and Vodafone all did.
Having already deployed the 2.3GHz spectrum in parts of London in the immediate aftermath of the auction, O2 now plans to deploy it in more parts of the capital, as well as major cities like Leeds and Nottingham.
It will prioritise busy areas of the cities, such as the Westfield shopping centres in the White City and Stratford areas of London, and customers should notice an immediate improvement with 600 sites to be upgraded by the end of the month
“We know how important a fast and reliable connection is to our customers which is why we’re putting our new 4G spectrum to use as quickly as possible,” said O2 COO Derek McManus. “We were able to switch on the first sites within 24 hours. Our swift deployment of new 4G spectrum will further enhance the O2 experience for all of our UK customers.”
The 3.4GHz spectrum will be used to power trials at the O2 in London as well as further, unspecified pilots, in all four UK nations within the next 12 months,
There are now 32 million customers on the O2 network – both on O2 retail and MVNOs such as Sky Mobile, Tesco Mobile and Lycamobile – while revenue increased 2.9 per cent over the past three months to £1.4 billion.
“We have delivered another solid quarter driven by our relentless focus on customers,” declared Patricia Cobian, O2 CFO. “We are growing top and bottom line in a very competitive market while maintaining the highest levels of customer loyalty and satisfaction in our sector.
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