O2 plans 4G network launch and claims it will help reinvigorate UK high street

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O2 has set out its plans for its 4G network launch later this month (August 2013), which it claims will make it the fastest growing 4G network in the UK and will help to reinvigorate the retail environment.

Feilim Mackle, sales and services director at O2, said: “Consumers increasingly expect a seamless retail experience, from browsing online to making a final choice in store. The arrival of mainstream 4G services has the genuine potential to reinvigorate the UK retail environment.

“The retailers that secure a place on the high street of the future will be those that embrace this new era of connectivity and use it to deliver a richer digital experience than ever before.”

According to eBay-commissioned research into the value of 4G for UK retailers, the arrival of universal 4G presents a huge opportunity for UK businesses. 

Olivier Ropars, eBay, said: “For retailers, it will enable delivery of a more immersive, instant and intimate shopping experience than ever before – putting the most exciting features of mobile retail into high definition. Our research shows there’s a potential £1.8bn of consumer spending up for grabs thanks to arrival of 4G. Now’s the time for businesses to take action and turn this opportunity into an exciting reality.”

The superfast 4G network will be switched on in London, Leeds and Bradford on 29 August 2013, reaching up to five million people from launch. O2 said its ambitious rollout plan aims to make 4G available to an additional two million people per month, culminating in O2’s 2G, 3G and 4G network reaching 98% of the UK population both indoor and outdoor.

By the end of the year, O2’s 4G network will be live in 13 cities: London, Leeds, Bradford, Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow, Liverpool, Nottingham, Leicester,  Coventry, Sheffield, Manchester and Edinburgh.

Further detail relating to the specific switch-on dates will be announced over the coming weeks.

To allow as many people as possible to experience and enjoy the benefits of 4G, O2 is launching a range of tariffs starting at £26 a month, which come complete with a 30 day ‘Happiness Guarantee’ for customers who sign up direct from O2. Business customers will also be offered tariffs for tablets and mobile broadband from launch and Mobile Wifi (Pop Up Office) in the coming weeks.

4G networks will provide faster data speeds (up to five times faster than 3Giii) and a more seamless mobile experience, marking a new generation for the mobile industry, said O2. O2 said it has invested £550m to secure one of the highest proportions of the UK’s lowest frequency spectrum (800Mhz), which was released to O2 at the end of May and was fully cleared by Ofcom this week. This frequency reaches further than any other, delivering the best indoor penetration and outdoor reach, the company claims.

Data usage on the O2 network has more than doubled in the last 12 months, demonstrating the ever growing appetite for mobile data services, said O2. 4G will complement O2’s current network offering, which includes 9,000 free O2 Wifi hotspots and the more recently launched TUGo, which uniquely allows O2’s consumer customers to make calls over wifi and use their tablet or laptop to make and receive calls and texts.

O2 is introducing a new in-store and social media campaign encouraging everyone to be #O24G’ Ready, inviting people to get their 4G-ready handset and free 4G SIM now, either in an O2 store or via an O2 business account manager.

O2 said it plans to go beyond what has already been offered in the 4G market and bring to life the digital experience for its customers, starting with 12 months free music content for those who buy a 4G consumer tariff direct from O2. Next generation office applications and services powered by 4G will enable O2 business customers to be more collaborative, more efficient and more productive.

All O2 customers will also be offered free 4G advice and guidance from an ‘O2 guru’ from launch, either in-store or via web chat, to explore the possibilities that 4G will unlock. Business customers can receive a consultation with their O2 business account manager to discuss how their organisation could benefit from 4G.

Ronan Dunne, CEO of Telefónica UK (O2), said: “Digital connectivity will be made ubiquitous by 4G and become the oxygen of modern life. It is our intention to use 4G to inspire the nation through the possibilities of technology, encouraging people to live more, do more and be more with O2.

“The full potential of 4G is as yet unexplored, but what we can be sure of is that it will allow for a whole new world of opportunity that people are now ready for. Over half of our customers say they use more data than two years ago and even more use wifi wherever they go, to always stay connected. Given this trend, there is no doubt that 4G will transform our lives, be it as consumers, in business or through public sector services.”

To celebrate its launch, O2 is hosting a gig in London at its iconic music venue, O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire. A headline artist, to be announced in the coming weeks, will perform an exclusive set, which will also be streamed live to screens and billboards across the city, as well as on O2’s social media channels. All tickets will be available from O2 Priority at www.o2priority.co.uk/tickets. O2 customers will have the opportunity to get their tickets 48 hours before general release.