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Virgin Media O2 announces significant 4G and 5G boost – including holiday hotspots

Ahead of what is expected to be a record staycation summer for the UK, Virgin Media O2 has announced a massive boost to its 4G and 5G mobile network, with a focus on rural and tourist hotspots.

  • Virgin Media O2 has provided a 4G upgrade to over 31,300 postcodes since the start of the year in a drive to boost connectivity around the country.
  • Ahead of the Staycation summer, almost 600 cell sites have also been upgraded across coastal & tourist hotspots, with many locations having outdoor 5G network connectivity installed, such as Edinburgh Castle, the V&A Museum and Bournemouth Pier.
  • This comes as the operator has started to roll out its new 5G low band spectrum, further widening its 5G footprint and strengthening indoor penetration.
  • Remote working has seen a surge in demand for 4G in rural tourist areas, with new research showing 1 in 5 Brits are considering a ‘rural working break’ in the UK, as a change of scenery.

The network voted UK’s best for mobile reliability and coverage has delivered a 4G boost in 31,300 postcodes in 2021 so far – and upgraded almost 600 cell sites at the nation’s favourite tourist destinations and seaside areas since last summer, such as Bognor Regis, Bath, Falmouth, Plymouth, Cambridge and Stirling.

Virgin Media O2 has also continued to roll out its 5G network, focusing on strengthening its 5G coverage in towns and cities while introducing the next generation network to tourist hotspots such as:

  • Edinburgh Castle
  • Bournemouth Pier
  • Tynemouth
  • King Edwards Bay
  • Llandudno West Shore.

Also benefitting from new outdoor 5G connectivity are a range of museums and galleries, including the V&A Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Natural History Museum, the Mary Rose Museum, York Castle Museum and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

Following Ofcom’s 5G Spectrum Auction in spring, Virgin Media O2 now has more low band spectrum than anyone else, providing the opportunity to potentially have the largest 5G coverage footprint in the UK, supporting more people, businesses and devices.

The announcement comes as new research commissioned by Virgin Media O2, conducted by YouGov found that over half (57 per cent) of Brits are planning to holiday in a remote area of the UK for a staycation this year. To meet these customer needs, Virgin Media O2 is investing more than ever in its network to improve coverage and experience as it upgrades the UK.

Staycation selfies drive data demand

Virgin Media O2’s improved 4G network and expanded 5G network comes just in time for the summer holidays. In the first week of May, as lockdown eased, its network carried approximately 55% more peak hour data than it did in the same week last year.

The network also carried the most amount of data traffic ever to support the all English Champions League Final in May.

The appetite to stay connected will remain whilst away, with research showing a quarter (23 per cent) of Brits planning on posting about their staycations live on social media, and a third (32 per cent) of holidaymakers planning to keep in contact whilst out and about with friends and family.

Supporting the rise of rural workers

Virgin Media O2’s latest polling also shows that it’s not just holidaymakers who’ll be making the most of this boosted connectivity – 1 in 5 (19 per cent) workers are considering a ‘nomadic working’ break this summer where they will work remotely whilst travelling or at a location out of their home. The rollout and improvement of the mobile network in rural areas of the UK is especially important to support this group of flexible workers.

Jeanie York, Chief Technology Officer at Virgin Media O2 said: 

“After a year like no other, we know how important it has been to stay connected. That’s why we’re committed to providing our customers with reliable connectivity all across the UK – as shown by our £448m investment on newly released spectrum – to increase capacity in our network and power the technology of the future, as well as spearheading the Shared Rural Network.

“Whether you’re a holidaymaker heading off for a sunny staycation, a rural business or someone living and working in a remote area, we’re doubling down on 4G to ensure network capacity is deployed where it’s needed most. The numbers speak for themselves, with over 31,300 postcodes receiving a 4G network upgrade this year, hundreds of tourist hotspots boosted and a real focus to improve our 5G experience where people need it most.”

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