O2 refarms spectrum in London for 3G network launch

21 Mar 2011

British mobile network operator O2 UK has announced that it has launched a new network across London, with the move coming on the back of regulator Ofcom’s January 2011 decision to liberalise spectrum in the 900MHz and 1800MHz bands, allowing operators to offer 3G services using both frequencies. O2 claims that its new 900MHz 3G network in the capital offers greater coverage, a 50% increase in network capacity and 30% faster downloads. The cellco has also inaugurated third generation services using the 900MHz bands in a number of other cities following Ofcom’s ruling, including Leeds, Birmingham and Manchester, and has said that it expects to further extend its 3G 900MHz footprint in the coming months. Commenting on the development Nigel Purdy, chief technology officer for O2 UK, noted: ‘This switch-on is the latest in a series of network enhancements for O2, and is a first for the UK and Telefonica. We’ve acted quickly to bring the benefits of 3G over 900MHz spectrum to our customers and we’re thrilled with the results … We invest the equivalent of over GBP1 million (USD1.62 million) a day, every day, in our network, which is used to deliver technologies in a way that goes beyond traditional cellular infrastructure; providing access to a new range of ‘smarter’ services. Our strategy is to intelligently layer our network to give our customers connection to 2G, 3G, HSPA+, Long Term Evolution (LTE) and Wi-Fi, seamlessly, simply and at speed.’

Meanwhile, in response to the launch of the new infrastructure rival mobile operator Hutchison 3G UK has claimed the launch underlines the problems with Ofcom’s decision to allow for spectrum refarming. According to V3.co.uk, H3G UK said of the regulator’s ruling: ‘O2’s launch of 3G services on gifted 2G spectrum just weeks after the refarm decision demonstrates the fundamental weakness of Ofcom’s assumptions that it would take one to two years to take advantage of it … The competitive impact of the 2G refarm giveaway is far more real than Ofcom has stated and has come far earlier than it appears it was led to believe.’

United Kingdom, Hutchison 3G UK (Three UK), O2 UK, Ofcom