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O2 Unveils £500m, 1500 Site Network Expansion

Gordon Kelly


UPDATED: O2 Unveils £500m, 1500 Site Network Expansion

It would be nice to believe our feature, The Truth About Mobile Broadband, had something to do with this, but in reality we're just glad to see a network doing the right thing...

Today O2 has announced it will be adding significant capacity to its network throughout 2010 with the addition of 1500 new sites at a cost of £500m. The enlargement will also see existing network sites upgraded with 40 additional sites live in London alone by Christmas and a further 200 to follow next year.

"In the past 12 months the mobile industry has seen an unprecedented change in demand," said O2 chief technology offer Derek McManus. "The introduction of world-class devices, in combination with a wide variety of data applications, has brought about a dramatic change in customer behaviour and created an exponential demand on mobile data networks. To put this in context, watching a YouTube video on a smartphone can use the same capacity on the network as sending 500,000 text messages simultaneously. We are now aggressively accelerating our network growth programme to ensure we have significant headroom for the future and retain our focus on being number one for customer satisfaction."

This is extremely good news for O2 customers given the telco has come in for unprecedented customer criticism this year with data network collapses and Ofcom 3G coverage criticism just two examples. Last month O2 also confirmed it has started trialling LTE (Long Term Evolution) also known as 'Super 3G'. This will expand cell tower capacity from 3.6/7.2Mbit/sec to 140-160Mbit/sec in its first iteration.

Maybe, just maybe, the message is starting to get through...

Update: Thanks to xenos for an extremely astute comment which points out the O2 quote shows how overpriced text messages are. We're actually going to chase O2 for a response about this. Stay tuned!

Update 2: Here's that O2 response:

"Our comparison was designed to illustrate the network capacity required for a YouTube video, as an example. We were not comparing like for like in terms of costs. There is a minimum cost associated with each individual network connection - i.e. a phone call, text message, web page. The idea was to show the growing network capacity required, which has led to the investment announced today."

In all fairness O2 has a point here: multiple connections and individual user costs are different to that of a single connection. That said, I don't think anyone would deny SMS messaging is greatly overpriced. Will this change following the 2010 network upgrade and roll-out? If your reaction is anything to go by, it will need to...



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