O2 customers will benefit from 5G connectivity from October this year. One of Britain’s best networks for coverage will initially switch on across key hubs in areas of Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London, Slough and Leeds, ensuring 5G is available where customers need it most. O2’s 5G switch-on will see faster speeds and new opportunities reaching customers in 20 towns and cities by the end of the year and 50 by summer 2020.
O2’s intelligence-led rollout strategy has been driven by data and insight that identifies where customers will benefit from 5G the most. The next-generation network will radically improve capacity and reliability in key locations, allowing customers to access super-fast speeds even during peak periods. Key locations include train stations, important business areas and entertainment and sports venues including The O2 and Twickenham Stadium.
For customers who want to get 5G ready ahead of launch, the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G will be available to purchase from Thursday August 8 with the Xiaomi Mix 3 5G coming later in August. Further devices will be rolled out ready for launch. Following the launch of 5G in October, both consumer and business customers will be able to select a 5G tariff that suits them.
O2’s industry-leading custom plans ensure that customers have the flexibility to take advantage of 5G on their terms. Customers on O2 custom plans can move to 5G at any time they chose. For customers who want to stick with their current handset, custom plans gives them the flexibility to trade in their existing non-5G handset and take out a new 5G handset and tariff any time after launch. Full detail of O2’s tariffs, handsets and devices will be revealed later this year.
Mark Evans, CEO, Telefónica UK, said: “5G is going to be a game changer for our country. Whether it’s for people or businesses, the power of this next-generation network is going to unlock a world of possibilities for our economy and society.
“As we switch on our network across the country, our intelligence-led roll-out prioritises the key areas in towns and cities first – the places where our customers need and will use 5G the most. We’re also giving our customers maximum flexibility with our industry-leading custom plans, letting people adopt 5G at a time that’s right for them.”
Building a 5G economy
The 5G announcement comes as O2 confirms its new business division, O2 Business. O2 Business will consolidate the operator’s B2B activity across Enterprise and Wholesale partners. O2 Business will bring together all product development (including IOT, data and 5G) alongside its Enterprise and Wholesale sales and commercial teams. The division will focus on supporting business customers to use technology to solve their business problems.
O2 Business will build on existing plans, working with major UK businesses across Industrial and Manufacturing, Energy and Utilities, Retail, and Transport sectors to build a 5G economy and help shape the use cases to drive benefits from 5G.
Examples of O2’s work here includes:
- Northumbrian Water Group which is assessing how 5G smart sensors can help proactively monitor water quality and detect and reduce leaks to reduce water waste. Being able to quickly install, fix and maintain complex infrastructure is a priority, so the company is also evaluating the benefit of connecting field engineers to skilled experts using 5G-enabled AR headsets allowing real-time support where instructions and manuals can be overlaid in the field engineer’s AR headset
- Network Rail. O2 has had some initial discussions with Network Rail around how it can support it with its 5G technology trials. Passenger numbers are set to double again in the next 25 years. Engineering, innovation and technology are the key enablers to unlocking the railway and in-turn GB productivity for the 21st century.
Coinciding with its 5G launch, O2 will also be opening its 5G innovation spaces within its Wayra accelerator hubs. The spaces will provide next-generation 5G test environments to start-ups and scale-ups to help fuel future innovation.
Continuing to invest in 4G
O2 will implement a balanced 5G rollout with a commitment to continue upgrading its 4G network across the country and ensuring flexible and transparent tariffs are available for all. According to YouGov, while only 11% of consumers think network operators should prioritise the rollout of 5G, 31% would prefer improved 4G connectivity and fair tariffs to be more of a priority.
4G remains the backbone of the O2 network and earlier this year, O2 announced it was upgrading its infrastructure at sports venues across the country such as Liverpool’s 54,000 capacity Anfield Stadium, Lord’s cricket ground and a range of major UK shopping centres, including Bluewater in Kent.
O2 currently offers 4G in almost 19,000 cities, towns and villages across the UK and spends the equivalent of £2 million a day on strengthening its network and increasing its reach and was recently awarded uSwitch’s 2019 award for Best Network Coverage, as voted by the public.