From this week O2’s 4G service will cover 6,000 towns across the UK, providing 87% coverage to the outdoor population. Launched just over two and a half years ago in August 2013, it is remarkable the speed at which O2’s 4G network is connecting more people, all as part of their £3bn network modernisation programme. It is O2’s fastest rollout yet in order to meet their obligations to deliver 98% indoor population coverage by the end of 2017. But, the story doesn’t end there.
As they progress with the modernisation programme, it has become increasingly apparent the importance to which we, as consumers, businesses and public services, place on coverage and connectivity. Mobile devices are seen as the remote control of our lives, enabling us to work, connect with friends and catch up on that all important TV series, wherever we are. And the expectation now is for ubiquitous connectivity, whether that’s in the home, in town or in rural areas.
Let’s take one of the key findings from O2’s and Trajectory’s new report, Mobile and the Connected Economy, which we will publish shortly. The businesses and organisations that were surveyed said their operations were becoming increasingly agile and that having high-quality access to digital infrastructure and connectivity played a large part in determining their future investments here in the UK.
With the UK’s digital economy accounting for over a third of the UK’s overall GDP, and predicted to grow to over £764bn by 2020, it is little surprise that organisations and businesses are turning to digital to access new opportunities and find new ways to engage with their customers and users. The findings from O2’s recent Digital Communities initiative in St Helens found that giving communities, local services and businesses better access to digital infrastructure can significantly boost their economic and social prospects due to uplift in jobs, increased consumer spending and improved productivity.
O2 is not just building and upgrading its network to keep up with demand, they are developing a network that will meet the UK’s ambitions for the future. That is, a digital economy that competes on a global stage and delivers new opportunities for communities and businesses across the UK. It is also about building the foundations for future innovations such as 5G, driverless cars and smart cities.
None of these opportunities will be possible without good quality mobile infrastructure, which enables people and machines to connect to each other. We must raise our ambitions from keeping up to getting ahead so that we are ready to compete in the future.