O2 will begin the rollout of its 5G network this year in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. The network will be rolled out to other areas of the UK from 2020 to coincide with the wider availability of 5G handsets.
In addition, O2 said that, following demand for its 5G testbed opportunities from FTSE 100 companies and other leading UK businesses, it is creating 5G innovation spaces across the country including in its Wayra accelerator hubs. The spaces will provide 5G test environments accessible to business of all sizes to help fuel future innovation.
Telefónica UK CEO Mark Evans said that, while the company prepares for 5G rollout in 2019, it will work to build a 5G economy in coalition with British industry, making the case for 5G in the UK and exploring the possibilities of the latest mobile standard.
"5G is a promise of so much more – for consumers, business, industry and public services," said Evans. "O2 is working in partnership with British industry, encouraging businesses, big and small, to engage with the possibilities of 5G technology through both our testbed programme and launch deployment.
“O2’s 5G network will arrive this year and we want the next-generation of mobile services to launch with a bang. 5G will benefit customers from launch, with better speeds and improved customer experience. Following the demand from our FTSE 100 trials, we are extending our testbed opportunities so that businesses of all sizes can work us to build the 5G Economy. Mobile is one of the UK’s most powerful opportunities to strengthen our economy and improve the lives of British people and 5G is a significant milestone for this nation.”
The network has also released its 2018 results. Total revenue for the year came in at £6m, a 5.4 per cent year-on-year increase. O2 said the increase was mainly driven by higher value smartphone sales and increased customer spending.
Total accesses, including customers who use the O2 network through giffgaff, Tesco Mobile, Sky Mobile and Lycamobile, reached 32.6m, with Telefónica UK remaining the largest UK mobile network carrier. Its mobile base stands at 25m users, with 13.5m using 4G.
The company maintained its market leading position for customer loyalty with contract churn excluding M2M at 1 per cent for the year and for the quarter. Contract net additions for the full year were 282,000, or 501,000 including M2M subscriptions. The contract customer base now accounts for 65 per cent of the total mobile base.