Today, O2 announces its ongoing commitment to eradicating rural coverage not-spots and rebuilding the nation after the COVID-19 pandemic. The UK’s largest mobile network has delivered a 4G boost in 91,000 postcodes this year so far, including almost 400 of the nation’s favourite tourist destinations. It comes ahead of Saturday 4th July, when Great British tourism is set to make its return.
Rural connectivity is crucial to the economic recovery of the country, which is why O2 now has 4G coverage in over 18,000 regional towns, villages and hamlets1. This means less network congestion, faster download speeds and web browsing, an improved social media experience, and less video stalling.
The announcement comes at a critical time as the nation emerges from the pandemic with a renewed reliance on technology. O2 experienced an initial 25% increase in phone calls at the start of the pandemic as Britons checked on their friends and family, with people spending 30% longer on the phone (on average) since lockdown1.
O2’s continued 4G rollout has benefitted off-the-beaten-track locations, including dozens of hamlets – from Inveruglas on the shore of Loch Lomond, to Cynheidre in South Wales. Other well-known destinations include the famous Cat and Fiddle road in the Peak District, and Machrihanish Beach on the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland, just in time for what is expected to be the nation’s biggest stay-at-home summer.
Multiple National Trust and English Heritage sites have also welcomed a 4G boost, from the ruins of St Augustine’s Abbey in Canterbury, to the scenic Shieldaig Island, tucked away in the Scottish Highlands on Loch Torridon. This means that local holidaymakers can visit these picturesque beauty spots with the reassurance that they can keep connected with their family, friends and Google Maps.
This year, O2 has also continued to roll out its next generation 5G network, allowing customers to access outdoor, ground level 5G coverage at over 300 popular UK destinations – including Covent Garden in London, and the Jewry Wall ruins in Leicester. The next generation 5G network is crucial in helping customers and businesses connect like never before to support the economy as the UK emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The news also comes in the wake of the government’s announcement on a Shared Rural Network, with O2 leading the charge on connecting even the smallest rural communities – down to hamlets with less than ten residents. O2 will continue to work hand in hand with the Government and businesses to accelerate productivity, building a strong digital infrastructure that will help rebuild Britain.
Brendan O’Reilly, Chief Technology Officer at O2 said: “It has never been more important for people to keep connected. We have a collective responsibility to help rebuild our nation, and the telecoms industry stands at the forefront of this effort. With the government signalling a return of tourism in the coming days and weeks, we want to make it easy for people to enjoy summer safely. All with the knowledge that they can venture to pockets of the countryside and still keep in touch with friends and family.
We are continuing to add 4G to even smaller rural communities across the length and breadth of Britain, at the same time improving the experience for our customers in towns and cities by deploying more spectrum into the places where they need it most. We will also play a leading role – alongside the other network operators – in ensuring the Shared Rural Network does its job in eradicating rural not-spots.”
Rebuilding Great British Tourism
It won’t just allow holidaymakers to stay connected, but will be vital for local businesses which rely on mobile connectivity to stay in touch with customers and drive tourism to their areas. O2 has also recently announced a suite of digital solutions available to help get businesses back to work safely, including virtual queuing, staff scheduling and appointment booking technologies – helping to build customer confidence. More information can be found here.
O2 invests over £2m a day in its network in areas where customers need it most. Just last month, O2 announced it has reached 60 towns and cities with its next generation 5G network, alongside a 10,000 site LTE-M network, more details of which can be found here.
O2’s 5G network infrastructure is being rolled out in partnership with primary vendors Ericsson and Nokia, following a competitive tender.