Virgin Media O2 accelerates Londoners’ 5G coverage

Recently merged operator’s 5G coverage in UK metropolitan area extends to over two-thirds of population coverage and company commits to reaching half of the UK’s population in 2023

The impact of upgrades and expansion to mobile and fixed networks in the capital by Virgin Media O2 London has been revealed by the operator showing its 5G network has extended to reach 64% of the population, with the expanded footprint coming thanks to recently deployed low-band 5G spectrum.

Virgin Media O2 said the importance of improved connectivity was highlighted in recent research from economic modelling experts Oxford Analytica, which found that investment in full-fibre and mobile connectivity could unlock 68,384 jobs in the capital and boost London’s economy by more than £16bn by 2026. The findings, published in the Digital connectivity index, also showed how digital infrastructure investment could help tackle inequality.

London now has one of the largest 5G footprints within Virgin Media O2’s network, at a time when the company says uptake of the ultrafast service is increasing. The operator has committed to investing at least £10bn in the UK, has delivered 5G to more than 2,000 sites across the country in 2021, and now has 5G coverage in areas spanning 300 towns and cities. It has promised to reach 50% of the UK’s population with its 5G services in 2023.

Virgin Media O2 claims the largest share of the low-band 5G spectrum – which enables mobile signals to travel further – among the major network operators, a move that it says paves the way for stronger, more reliable customer experiences.

In addition to enhancing the 5G footprint, Virgin Media O2 has also upgraded 4G capacity in 41,228 postcodes across London and more than 241,000 nationally. The company has also continued to expand its Wi-Fi network across the Tube, offering connectivity at more than 260 stations, representing 97% of the London Underground network.

In the fixed domain, Virgin Media O2 has extended its footprint to reach 340,000 more premises through its Project Lightning programme and made gigabit broadband available to more than six million Londoners. This comes following more than £200m of broadband investment in the City in recent years.

“Providing a 5G boost is part of our long-standing investment in the capital and our mission to upgrade the UK through our ongoing investment in 4G, 5G, fixed broadband and innovative new services,” said Virgin Media O2 chief technology officer Jeanie York.

“We are taking a customer-centric approach to our mobile network strategy, which centres on optimising our network where our customers need them most. This means focusing on densifying our coverage where our customers are going to feel the most benefit, such as busy urban cities like London, while also investing to extend coverage in less populated areas,” added York.

“With our Volt proposition, we can offer 5G plus gigabit broadband together, giving Londoners the best connectivity in and out of their homes.”

The company completed its wider gigabit roll-out in December 2021 and recently announced its intention to upgrade its fixed network to full-fibre to the premises (FTTP) with completion in 2028.

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