O2 UK wafts 4G coverage over 1,000 new Brit sites

Small operator starts LTE building following spectrum splurge

O2 is enlarging its 4G footprint across Blighty to an extra 1,000 sites, after splurging £205m gobbling up all the available LTE spectrum at Ofcom's recent auction.

Places earmarked for the extra coverage include Leeds, Nottingham and London, with 60 sites in the capital currently using the new spectrum after Ofcom made it available early this month.

In the recent auction by the regulator, O2 spent a total of £523.6m to obtain 40MHz of immediately useable 4G spectrum (2.3GHz) and 40MHz of spectrum expected to be used in the launch of 5G (3.4GHz).

By doing so, the operator significantly boosted its share of spectrum holdings from 14 per cent to 20 per cent. However, compared to EE and Vodafone – which own 35 per cent and 27 per cent respectively – it still has a relatively small portion of the spectrum pie.

However, decent 4G coverage remains a significant problem. The UK's average 4G speeds are slower than Armenia's, according to network performance monitor OpenSignal.

Patricia Cobian CFO for Telefónica UK, said: "Our newly acquired mobile spectrum allows us to further strengthen our award winning network, enhancing our connectivity for our customers while boosting the economy and laying the foundations for 5G in Britain."

In the company's first quarter results today (PDF), O2 posted sales of £1.4bn, a 2.9 per cent increase on last year. Operating income before depreciation and amortisation, rose 6.1 per cent to £375m.

O2 is also deploying a vanity project to trial 5G at the iconic former Millennium Dome in North Greenwich later this year. ®

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