1/21/2011 10:00:00 AM
O2 doubles UK network spend
O2 has doubled its UK network spend to £2m per day as it begins to migrate iPhone 4 and dongle users onto its 900MHz spectrum band.
The move follows measures introduced by Ofcom at the beginning of this month allowing O2 and Vodafone to refarm their 2G 900MHz spectrum for 3G services.
The operators could previously only use a limited amount of spectrum to deliver 3G due to licensing restrictions introduced in the 1990s.
It will allow O2 to move iPhone 4 users, dongle users and owners of some Nokia handsets – who are 900MHz compatible – from the 2100MHz spectrum band and ease network congestion.
However, some industry sources said the extra network spend is O2 playing ‘catch up’ with its rivals, many of which claimed to have already put in a similar daily investment in their networks.
One source said: ‘They are trying to use short-term measures to boost the network. To get short-term benefit you gamble with 2G users.’
O2 admitted it was using the 900MHz spectrum to increase its 3G coverage as the data crunch hit but said its 2G users would not suffer.
It said: ‘As part of our financial results we announced that we’ll be increasing investment in our national mobile network by up to 25% this year. Part of this investment will be realised through the migration to 900MHz spectrum, which was formally agreed by Ofcom last week.
‘Our deployment is focused on increasing the capacity of our 3G network where we have capacity hotspots. When 900MHz is activated on a site, customers with compatible handsets should experience less congestion and a faster service.
‘Our 2G customers will benefit as traffic migrates to the 900MHz network and frees up capacity.’
Deployment will be staggered, O2 added, and some cities will go live first. It is not known when deployment will complete.
Vodafone said: ‘Vodafone has consistently invested in its network in order to stay one step ahead of the competition. We are ready for the introduction of 3G on our 900MHz network and we will use it to improve the service for all our customers.’
Everything Everywhere and Three did not comment.