August 24, 2015

O2 to utilise 1800MHz spectrum for improved 4G

o2-Mast

With 63% indoor 4G coverage and 75% outdoor coverage O2 is well on its way to achieving its target of 98% UK population coverage by 2017.

But there’s more to 4G than coverage, there’s also capacity for example. If there’s not enough capacity for the number of people trying to use it then speeds and reliability can be hampered, but O2 is working on that as well, as according to Tech Week Europe it’s re-farming its 1800MHz spectrum for use with 4G.

Currently O2 only uses 800MHz spectrum for 4G, which is long range but doesn’t offer the same capacity as higher frequency spectrum.

O2 is set to start rolling out 1800MHz spectrum for 4G use in London and will move on to other cities later in the year and as well as offering improved capacity the 1800MHz spectrum will finally allow users of the iPhone 5 and below to get 4G on O2.

But re-farming spectrum isn’t O2’s only plan for improved 4G performance, as it’s also set to upgrade its Wi-Fi hotspots, so that customers will automatically be switched to Wi-Fi when available if 4G performance is likely to be lacking.

Looking ahead to early 2016 O2 is also expected to roll out both Voice over Wi-Fi and Voice over LTE, with an aim of bringing them out together and allowing for a seamless transition between the two, so customers can call and text in more places and circumstances.

As for coverage improvements, O2 is moving along steadily there and is now largely focused on bringing 4G to rural areas, having spent the last two years prioritising towns and cities.

You can see this change of focus in the recent places that O2 4G has been brought to, such as Nuneaton and Aylesbury Vale.

But while O2 is committed to 98% UK population coverage with 4G and may even one day achieve 99% coverage, 100% isn’t looking likely, as that final one percent don’t even have electricity or water.

Still, given that there isn’t even 100% 3G coverage we’d settle for 98 or 99%, let’s just hope the wait for that isn’t too long.

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