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O2’s UK Spectrum Spend Sees Data Speeds Soar

Mobile operator snapped up entire 2.3 GHz block at U.K. auction in April and has activated it on around 650 4G sites, according to Tutela.

The €230 million O2 spent on 2.3 GHz spectrum in the U.K. earlier this year is already paying off, according to new network performance data gathered by crowdsourced information specialist Tutela.

The U.K. mobile operator has activated the spectrum on around 650 mobile sites across six cities and in those locations is generating data download speeds that are 80% faster than its average 4G download speed, Tutela calculated, using speed test results and other network measurements collected in August.

The telco’s average download speed over the 2.3 GHz frequencies came in at 26.9 Mbps, compared to its average 4G performance of 14.7 Mbps, Tutela said. Its speeds are based on a 2 MB file download.

That is obviously good news for O2’s mobile customers, or at least for those inside the M25, where the bulk of the activated sites are located – there are also some in Oxford, Nottingham, Leeds, Leicester and Coventry – but it remains difficult to judge whether the operator will see a financial return on that investment, in the form of new customers or improved retention, for example.

However, O2 certainly needed the additional spectrum to meet its 4G capacity requirements.

It spent £205.9 million (just over €230 million at current exchange rates) on the entire 40 MHz block of 2.3 GHz spectrum available at the U.K. auction in April, and almost immediately pledged to activate it at 1,000 locations.

According to Tutela, the 2.3 GHz rollout has yet to have an impact on the table it produces ranking the U.K.’s mobile operators by network performance.

O2 ranks third behind EE and Vodafone on 4G and 3G download speeds – EE tops the table with a 23.84 Mbps average 4G download speed – but Tutela believes that could soon change.

“As only a limited number of locations and subscribers are using the new 2.3 GHz bands, we haven’t yet seen a shift in position, however, this rollout could quickly see [O2] move up the rankings in the not too distant future,” the firm said. – Total Telecom

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