Ipswich has recently become the 500th town in the UK to receive 4G from O2 as the provider continues its plans to expand and upgrade its various mobile networks.
Since O2 went live with its 4G service in the summer of 2013 it has gained over 5 million 4G customers and has rolled out 4G in 500 towns and cities, with Ipswich being the latest. O2 customers in Ipswich that have a 4G ready handset have already been switched to 4G tariffs without any additional fees. Outdoor population coverage for the O2 4G network is now thought to be in the region of 70%, with the provider working towards a target of 98% of the population by the end of 2017. When comparing O2 with other 4G network in a recent report, Rootmetrics summed up O2 by saying “rapid growth and improvement make it an emerging challenger.”
According to Derek McManus, O2 chief operating officer, “This is a significant step in bringing 4G to our customers and is our fastest ever roll-out of new mobile technology. At the same time, we’ve been transforming the core part of our network to introduce new features to enhance our customer’s experience such as HD Voice which brings higher and clearer quality sound to calls. We’re also getting ready to launch new capabilities like voice and video calls over 4G in the coming months.”
Expanding its 4G network is part of a larger plan five-year improvement plan – launched in 2012 – that also includes updating O2’s 2G and 3G networks. O2’s philosophy was to modernise all its networks rather than just focusing on 4G to ensure that all customers would benefit, whether they were using mobile internet or performing more traditional mobile tasks such as sending a text message or making a voice call. Updating the 2G and 3G networks with more advanced technology has meant making masts more reliable during extreme weather conditions and increasing the capacity of those masts to carry voice and data traffic.
Over the past 18 months O2 has also modernised its core network – or central nervous system – implementing new technologies and removing single points of failure to increase resilience to faults. Along with new services such as HD Voice, this has resulted in better voice call quality, reduced congestion at peak times, and faster data sessions with fewer interruptions. The entire five-year plan is expected to require an investment of around £3 billion.
Talking about the rollout of the O2 4G network, Brendan O’Reilly, Chief Technology Officer at Telefónica UK says,“655 days ago I stood excitedly next to a hospital bed waiting patiently for the arrival of my second son. At pretty much the same time, the rest of the O2 Network teams were stood, equally as nervously, in our Network Management Centre awaiting news that our first 4G sites had gone live in London. As my youngest, Sam, approaches his 2nd birthday and becomes a robust and slightly willful toddler – growing ever bigger before my eyes – my other child continues to do the same!”