Virgin Media O2 says its 'on track' for 5G coverage aims

Virgin Media O2
(Image credit: Virgin Media O2)

Virgin Media O2 says it is on track to meet its target of covering half the UK population with 5G by 2023 and has started the process of upgrading its fixed line network to full fibre technology.

The operator's 5G service is now available in more than 400 towns and cities according to its own metrics, while its broadband network now reaches 15.8 million premises - all of which can access speeds in excess of 1Gbps.

The joint-venture between Liberty Global and Telefonica has ambitions of becoming a genuine converged challenger to BT and is investing significant amounts in both its mobile and fixed infrastructure.

Virgin Media O2 5G

5G coverage will be expanded using O2's low-band spectrum, while Virgin Media's terrestrial network will be futureproofed using fibre to the premise (FTTP) technology as the firm seeks to maintain its technological leadership.

The success of initial upgrade pilots now means the company has moved to deploy FTTP at a cost of £100 per home, with a completion target of 2028.

The news marks a successful Q1 in which fixed line customers remained static at 5.8 million, while 478,000 mobile users were added - a figure which includes additions from Virgin Media O2's wholesale customers and Internet of Things (IoT) subscriptions.

Revenues were flat at £2.5 billion but profit rose by 5% year-on-year to £92 million.

"The first quarter has seen us remain focused on delivering and innovating to pave the way for the rest of the year," said Virgin Media O2 chief executive Lutz Schueler. 

"We have started to ramp up network investments while improving our products and services with big challenger decisions like not reintroducing EU roaming fees.
"With Q1 showing solid financial foundations from a stabilising top line and improved profitability, we remain on track to meet our 2022 guidance."

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.