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O2 prepares to switch on LTE

O2 will launch LTE services at the end of August 2013

The UK arm of Telefonica, O2, has announced that it will launch LTE services later this month. The network will be switched on in the cities of London, Leeds and Bradford on 29th August.

The operator claims LTE network coverage will extend to up to five million people at launch and will be made available to an additional two million people per month until its 2G, 3G and 4G network reaches 98 per cent of the UK population.

LTE services will be available to all new and existing customers on a range of tariffs starting from £26 per month for a SIM-only deal, and O2 said it will divulge further pricing information later this month. Customers who sign up for 4G services directly from O2 will be offered a 30 day satisfaction guarantee.

EE is the only operator to have launched LTE services in the UK, after it switched on its network late October last year using its refarmed 1800MHz spectrum. The operator said that it has since seen a 10 per cent increase in ARPU for LTE services over 3G.

It was not until February this year that the rest of the market was able to secure spectrum for 4G services, when regulator Ofcom held the UK spectrum auction. O2 spent £550m on 2x10MHz of 800MHz; Ofcom attached a coverage obligation to that lot of spectrum to provide services for indoor reception to at least 98 per cent of the UK population by the end of 2017.

“Digital connectivity will be made ubiquitous by 4G and become the oxygen of modern life,” said Ronan Dunne, CEO of Telefónica UK (O2). “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.”

Ovum analyst Steven Hartley said competition would be welcome in UK LTE services but stressed that EE has established a significant lead in terms of coverage. “Although details of O2’s LTE plans are lacking in today’s announcement, we like O2’s ‘30 day Happiness Guarantee’, in which dissatisfied customers can switch to a 3G plan if LTE fails to meet their needs,” Hartley said. “Getting LTE in the hands of users so that they can experience the benefits of the technology has been one of the key challenges for operators around the world and this approach allows hesitant customers to take the plunge.”

Put the date in your diary now for the inaugural LTE Voice Summit, taking place on October 1st-2nd at the Hilton Paddington, London. Click here NOW to download a brochure.


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