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O2’s 4G is all about the indoor coverage, not headline speeds

Want an idea of how fast O2 4G will be? Tough. O2 says it will focus on promoting its indoor and outdoor 4G coverage rather than shout about headline speeds. 

After this morning’s announcement that O2 would be launching 4G mobile broadband services later this month, we spoke to Ben Dowd, business director for O2. 

Dowd didn’t talk about headline speeds on the grounds that it’s harder to give customers a realistic idea of what to expect, compared to traditional fixed-line broadband. Instead he talked about the main benefit of O2’s 4G network, indoor coverage, and that it will have 30 times the level of capacity of its current 3G one. 

O2’s 4G is all about the indoor coverage, not headline speeds
Room to breathe: O2’s 4G promises excellent indoor coverage

Read our guide to 4G in the UKDowd said: “This will enable things like live gaming and HD streams with no buffering or interruptions in the home and outside.”

Signals on the 800MHz frequency band are better at penetrating bricks and mortar than higher frequency ones and O2 did acquire twice as much spectrum in the 800MHz band than EE in the big auction. So O2’s got some low-frequency trousers to back up its mouth. 

Improvements in latency reduction also means that O2 4G connections will be more reliable, five times more reliable than its current 3G network, so video calls made with mobile Skype apps should be solid as a rock. 

O2 announced this morning that London, Leeds and Bradford will be the three cities where it will make its 4G debut, with 10 other cities to follow throughout the rest of 2013. Dowd remained tight lipped when we pressed for names of other locations instead telling us that “we will launch in a city only when we can guarantee maximum coverage.” 

Dowd also said that the ‘2 million people covered a month’ figure is an average one and it hopes to have reached 98 per cent coverage by 2015, as per O2’s commitment to Ofcom

This would put O2 behind EE by about a year as EE plans to have 98 per cent coverage completed by the end of 2014. While EE did have a head start, launching in October 2012, its projected rollout means it’ll have reached 98 per cent in 26 months whereas O2’s rollout will take 28 months.

O2 has said that it’s working in tandem with Vodafone to create a single shared network for 4G rollout. This means that Vodafone’s pace of 4G rollout should be the same as O2’s. We’re expecting Vodafone to announce its 4G plans soon.  

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