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Virgin Media O2 Update on Rural UK 4G and 5G Upgrades in 2023

Tuesday, Dec 19th, 2023 (2:10 pm) - Score 3,000

Mobile operator O2 (VMO2) has today furnished us with a brief progress update on the 4G and 5G network upgrades they’ve been making across rural postcodes over the past year. Some of these have been focused on ensuring that their network is ready to cope with a surge in traffic over the peak Christmas shopping period.

Over the past year, the operator says they’ve deployed their “high-speed” 5G (mobile broadband) network to more than 30,000 rural areas and have also improved its 4G network to boost capacity in more than 34,245 postcodes across the countryside.

The upgrades come as economic modelling from Cebr for VMO2 claims to show that improving rural connectivity could add an extra £16.3bn to the UK economy and create 108,000 new jobs, although such forecasts should always be taken with a big pinch of salt.

The update comes on the same day that Ofcom’s Connection Nations 2023 report revealed (here) how O2’s geographic 4G coverage in rural areas had held fairly static at around 80% during the year, while their 5G coverage of rural areas currently sits at around 37-41%. By comparison, front-runner EE delivered 86% for 4G and 56-65% for 5G.

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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13 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Matt says:


  2. Avatar photo Jimmy says:

    LOL “to deal with the surge”, right.

  3. Avatar photo Stu says:

    O2’s data signal is terrible. Even in large areas of our city(PRESTON), but surrounding areas are terrible. Areas west from Preston and heading north/northwest are a joke in the part and if you head north/northeast then forget it! They are happy to sell you the latest tech handsets but unless you live in the chosen areas they are of course useless. It’s time O2 got its act together and concentrate on developing a proper FULL COVERAGE of 4g with a decent bandwidth before they try the 5g effort.

  4. Avatar photo O2IsFine says:

    These comments ever, are pathetic.

    Imagine your life being so sad you play football chants over a mobile phone network.

    1. Avatar photo Gavin says:

      I bet you really own a England rugby top because of the sponsor!

  5. Avatar photo B says:

    The o2 network in my area of Leicester is Very bad, they need to install a new phone mast

    1. Avatar photo Jon says:

      A “new mast” isn’t necessarily the answer, if coverage is generally OK. The solution could be additional capacity added to an existing site.

    2. Avatar photo Buggerlugz says:

      That hardly ever happens though Jon. The carriers promise it but never deliver.

  6. Avatar photo Mark says:

    Ofcom have alot to answer for. They allowed the mobile networks to turn off 3G in areas without any plants for 5G in place.

    Network has been terrible on vodaphone since the 3G switch off. It’s now 4G or no service, frequently no service.

    1. Avatar photo Jon says:

      It’s not the “G” that dictates coverage, it’s what kit has been deployed and where sites are located. Anywhere that VF/O2 had low-band 3G service (using 900Mhz), then deployment of low-band 4G (on 800Mhz) & 5G (on 700Mhz) will result in a much improved service.

      VodaFone’s rollout is a different issue, not sure who VodaPHone are 😉

  7. Avatar photo No Name says:

    To be fair.

    O2 were awful around my way this time last year. 1Mb up and down (band 20 only).

    Now 12 months later, blanket 5G on n28 and a few sites with n78, although only 40mhz. They’ve added some more L23 sites and all masts are now at least 8+20+1. Recently I’ve started to see n78 and n28 CAing together and also using L2300 with 5G.

    Speeds are anywhere between 50Mb – 200Mb.

    I went to central Birmingham recently and with how busy the place was, speeds were decent, around 30Mb all the time.

    They are turning a corner. Hopefully they’ll sort out the worst areas soon.

  8. Avatar photo Dean says:

    North Ayrshire was rated the second worse place in the UK above the Shetland islands for an O2 signal. If I walk out my house and my phone disconnects from my WiFi my music stops. And that’s with a basic 4g signal. Where EE can provide a 5g signal in the same area. It really needs to be brought out the stone ages as I finally have fibre broadband from virgin.

  9. Avatar photo Alun says:

    I live in a city without 5G coverage on o2 and poor 4G let alone rural areas.

Comments are closed

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