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O2 Begins UK Rollout of the 700MHz Band to Boost 5G Mobile

Friday, October 1st, 2021 (11:49 am) - Score 6,096
5g itu

Mobile operator O2 (VMO2) has today confirmed to ISPreview.co.uk that they’ve started to deploy the newly released 700MHz spectrum band for use on their latest ultrafast 5G mobile (mobile broadband) network, albeit initially limited to areas where they perceive there to be a case of “customer need” for it.

Just to recap. O2 are already busy deploying 5G using kit from Nokia and Ericsson, although until recently they only had access to a limited 40MHz slice of the 3.4GHz band for dedicated 5G services (excluding dynamic spectrum sharing with existing 4G bands).

NOTE: 700MHz can travel further than higher frequency mobile bands and also penetrates more effectively into buildings.

However, a few months ago the operator paid Ofcom £448m to obtain a 40MHz slice of the 3.6GHz band and 20MHz of the 700MHz FDD spectrum band (here). Both promise to help boost their mobile broadband speeds, although the lower frequency of the 700MHz band is particularly handy – especially when combined with 800MHz and 900MHz (carrier aggregation) – for improving network coverage.

The first deployment of the 700MHz band via O2, which occurred on the recently installed Ericsson flagship unilateral monopoles in Cardiff (Wales), was noted yesterday by mobile expert Peter Clarke (via computer scientist Jake M). In response, we hailed O2 to find out more about their rollout plan for the spectrum.

A Spokesperson for O2 told ISPreview.co.uk:

“We are already leveraging our leading position in low-band spectrum to strengthen the experience of our 5G network, and have started deploying this spectrum based on customer need.”

We hope to get a few more examples of where this is currently being deployed soon, although for now O2 seem to be a bit cagey about their overall rollout plan. Rival operator EE (BT) has also started to deploy the 700MHz band across parts of their UK network (here).

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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21 Responses
  1. Carl O says:

    Curious to know what “customer need” means.

    Hopefully it means those locations with poor connectivity and the amber warning that is cropping up on the My Network app saying the network can get busy in this area.

    Hopefully it’s an easy addition to current mast sites for simple upgrades and rollouts.

    Chester suffers horrendously.

    1. Gary H says:

      Exactly, Being the evver depressing pessimist, I suspect customer ‘need’ equates to where’s the densest clusters of users wo might be tempted to switch to o2 if we make it available, along with where the simultaneous extra connections are warranted rather than as you say areas with poor fixed connection availability.

    2. Aled says:

      Well, 700MHz spectrum has a specific set of characteristics compared to the higher frequencies. At a simple level, it would probably be most useful as a longer range signal, covering less urban areas, possibly major roads and hilly regions with poor signals. Looking at those Twitter images, I’d say that broadly matches the pattern.

  2. Dan says:

    I’ve seen 700mhz 5G/4G on Three before both in my hometown and in Birmingham when I’ve visited. Has anyone else seen it on three?

    1. Damien says:

      Yes we have it – Well correction we have it 100M down the road -but my area seems to struggle to get 4G let alone 5G!

      This is in my other house – not where I currently live

  3. The Facts says:

    Has ‘hailed’ replaced ‘reached out’ when ‘contact’ seemed to work?

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      Depends on how I’m feeling in the flow of it. In any case, it doesn’t particularly matter.

  4. Sam says:

    The roll out is so slow. Too slow. Its fustrating.

    1. Mike says:

      I suspect the government ban on Huawei and the chip shortage hasn’t helped much.

    2. Michael V says:

      @sam.
      With the for MNOs having to rip out all Huawei software and hardware it’s slowed down the roll out of 5G, maybe not a great deal but it’s impacted it.
      But also remember that councils refuse too many planning applications for new masts, Especially with idiots who protest.

      It is a slow roll out but sometimes these things take time & with Vodafone & O2 starting to separate from mast sharing [mostly in urban areas] that could be more challenging.

    3. Smythe says:

      O2 had very little Huawei equipment.
      Generally O2 are just slow at network upgrades, they always have been.

    4. JitteryPinger says:

      @Mike – not at all really, Vodafone has pressed on rolling out Huawei kit since the ruling on Huawei came in and O2 has 5G running on Huawei already in some areas.

      Reality is that while government has banned Huawei, the affect isn’t yet due and networks in the meantime have just carried with their rollouts, although changing there vendor of newly ordered kit to ERS/NOK.

  5. Jake says:

    Some more information on the Cardiff unilateral masts:
    https://twitter.com/AD_couk/status/1442771566744457218

    Looks like Cardiff will be bathed in 700MHz 5G once O2 are done building their new sites 🙂

    https://twitter.com/AD_couk/status/1396015724926222342

  6. Mark says:

    Will be interesting here just a 2G only mast, never been upgraded to 3/4G let me guess, won’t be happening.

    1. Scott says:

      2G is on the chopping block. EE looking to shut it down ASAP and others will follow.

    2. JitteryPinger says:

      3G not 2G :L

      2G will be around for a much longer time to come yet, its low power properties are useful for IOT devices currently in the field.

      EE has said it will turn of 3G in 2023 but in reality networks have been winding down 3G for the best part of past 3 years and some providers are already supplying new network without 3G components.

      As for the other networks they have all said they are turning of 3G, it is no longer used/required and is a cost to both moneyu pots and emmission targets to keep sitting idle.

  7. Ig Og says:

    Do you know how long it took me to find out what 700MHz was in the n number range to see if my phone had it? Grr!

  8. Sarah Gee says:

    I just want to get a reliable 4G signal, not fussed about 5G. In fact we’ve just had two days of no signal whatsoever with O2 so anything would be a positive.

  9. Mark says:

    By the time o2 get round to rolling out 5g in Dalkeith it’ll be time for 6g.

  10. Romanrav Reigns says:

    Definitely the ban on Huawei has slowed down 5g roll out and in my opinion Huawei 5g equipment is much superior to Nokia or Ericsson and the UK felt threatened by its tech but the idiots we have as politicians got rid of Huawei and followed America like a poodle as usual. And now we have sub par 5g from yesterday’s company Nokia who are well past it their phones are garbage now and Ericsson also. Got rid of the new faster tech and brought in the old slow tech from the middle ages.

    1. JitteryPinger says:

      Where’s your proof that Nokia/Ericsson are/will be an inferior vendor???

      I’ve tested some nokia/ericsson setups with better results than Huawei….

      I personally think the move by governments across the world was a good move to make as we where putting way to many eggs in one basket, but ofcourse as usual we have people demolishing what the proffessionals say over what nae sayers want to speil.

      Feel like I’m living in echos at the moment, reliving 2020 again where people had nothing better to than speculate.

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