O2’s pending merger with Three will not change its coverage target, according to COO Derek
McManus, who claimed ‘we are committed either way’.
The network is moving forward on its plans to reach a 97% indoor coverage target, with McManus saying it makes economic sense for operators to share networks in order to achieve this. McManus added that despite the merger talk O2 ‘can’t afford to wait’ on the rollout target it has set.
He said: ‘We’re doing the 97% indoor coverage target because that’s what consumers are asking for. Consumer habits are changing. In terms of the pending merger, we are committed to network rollout either way. The cost part is why people share network, because you get the same infrastructure advantage at half the cost.
‘I’m not allowed to talk to Three during the process but there are no plans in place. My concern is with the growth rate that we’ve set irrespective of that process. I’m not standing back and waiting because I can’t afford to. The growth rate we’ve got, what we’re trying to do with customers, I can’t afford to wait on that. We’re committed to doing what we need to do for our customers.’
Hitting the 97% coverage target is something that McManus feels will help businesses adapt to consumers, explaining that it will have a ‘massive’ impact on services: ‘Providing a ubiquitous network to that level is a really exciting thing for me as we start to change how businesses operate.
‘The impact of coverage on businesses and government services is massive; the health service, social services, education. The opportunities to deliver those services into the community when you’ve got ubiquitous coverage for the customer is phenomenal. It may not necessarily be the same from an individual revenue point of view but you could change how governments deliver services if you had ubiquitous mobile coverage.
‘If you put a mast that is serving one customer, the cost of running that will be vastly higher than the revenue you gain from it. It can cost half a million pounds to provide transmission to provide a link to some of these locations because you can’t get line of sight – you have to dig up the side of a road and it’s just astronomical. Where you’ve got bigger masts, you can place the masts where getting the utilities is easier. It’s an exponential curve to get to 100% coverage.’