Sky Mobile extends O2 MVNO agreement to cover 5G

Sky Mobile has extended its Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) agreement with Telefonica so it can offer 5G services to customers as soon as it is launched by O2.

The service launched in late 2016 and claimed to be the most comprehensive MVNO ever built, with Sky building out many of the core systems itself and retaining control over elements such as billing and SIM provision. Crucially, it could also use another host network if it wanted to.

However, it has always maintained it is happy with O2 and says the long-term partnership underlines its commitment to Sky Mobile, which launched as a SIM-Only service for existing customers.

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O2 5G

It now offers smartphones and tablets and is available to anyone, with the company adding 95,000 customers over the past 12 months, bringing the total number up to 500,000.

“This long-term deal furthers our strategic partnership with Telefónica UK, accelerates the growth of Sky Mobile and ensures our customers continue to enjoy great service including 5G connectivity,” said Stephen van Rooyen, Sky CEO for UK and Ireland.

O2’s plans for 5G are already underway, with a testbed at the iconic O2 arena set to go live later this year. At the recent Ofcom spectrum auction, O2 secured 3.4GHz airwaves that will power the first tranche of UK 5G services which are expected to go live in 2020.

“Our award-winning network and unwavering focus on the customer has helped us build a roster of successful partnerships,” declared O2 CEO Mark Evans.

"The extension of this agreement with Sky further optimises usage of our assets allowing us to continue to invest while helping Sky grow their mobile customer offer. We look forward to continuing this partnership and driving the mutual benefits it creates.”

Meanwhile, Sky has published its full year results – likely to be its last as a listed company amid interest from 20th Century Fox and Comcast. Revenue rose by 5 per cent to £14 billion, of which £8.9 billion was from the UK.

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.