O2 has confirmed which cities will be the first to experience its 5G network when it launches later this year.
The operator will be bringing 5G to the UK’s four capital cities – Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London – before the end of 2019, before expanding in 2020 as 5G- compatible handsets become more widely available.
O2 has been testing 5G in trials, including one at the O2 arena, but this is the first concrete details it has provided regarding a commercial service.
EE and Vodafone plan to go live in a number of major UK cities during the next few months, while Three has also said it want to launch in 2019. O2 now intends to follow a similar strategy to its rivals, meaning all four major UK mobile operators will offer next generation networks before the end of 2019.
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O2 5G launch
Over the past 12 months, the Telefonica-owned operator has taken a number of steps to facilitate the launch. Like its rivals, it secured 3.4GHz spectrum at the Ofcom auction last year, while it recently expanded its network infrastructure sharing agreement with Vodafone to cover 5G.
It has also made business connectivity a cornerstone of its 5G strategy, inviting FTSE 100 companies to identify industrial use cases, and has made overtures to the public sector. It plans to continue these efforts, while also launching Warya accelerator hubs for startups working on 5G applications.
This, O2 argues, will help boost the UK economy post-Brexit.
“5G is a promise of so much more – for consumers, business, industry and public services,” declared O2 CEO Mark Evans. “O2 is working in partnership with British industry, encouraging businesses, big and small, to engage with the possibilities of 5G technology through both our testbed programme and launch deployment.
“5G will benefit customers from launch, with better speeds and improved customer experience. Following the demand from our FTSE 100 trials, we are extending our testbed opportunities so that businesses of all sizes can work us to build the 5G Economy. Mobile is one of the UK’s most powerful opportunities to strengthen our economy and improve the lives of British people and 5G is a significant milestone for this nation.”
O2 also reported its annual financial results, revealing that revenues increased 5.4 per cent over the past 12 months to £6 billion. It attributed the gains to higher value smartphone sales, new custom plans, and growing Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) income.
There are now 32.6 million users on the O2 network, a figure which includes subscribers to Sky Mobile, Tesco Mobile and Lycamobile, with 25 million using O2 itself. O2 said net additions for the year were 501,000, or 282,000 when M2M is taken out of account.
“I’m pleased to report another strong set of full year results including half a million contract net additions and our tenth consecutive quarter of mobile service revenue growth, as we delivered another year of growth in revenues and profitability,” added Evans.
“In 2018, we focused on delivering against our mobile-first, customer-led strategy, launching stand-out propositions, winning landmark business accounts and investing over £1 billion for our customers.”
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