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O2 Ups Speeds at Holiday Spots for ‘Staycation Summer’

O2 is boosting its 4G and 5G mobile networks in holiday hotspots including museums and seaside towns ahead of the UK’s stay-at-home summer.

While the government has loosened some travel restrictions, most Brits are planning on staying on these shores this summer. O2 commissioned a survey in April which found that 57% of Brits are planning to holiday in a remote part of the UK this year. 

Beach or spa town or caravan park—the newly-merged Virgin Media O2 wants to ensure holidaymakers can use their devices wherever they go.

The telecoms giant says it has upgraded its 4G capacity at 600 cell sites, benefiting users in 31,300 postcodes. The telecoms giant hasn’t disclosed all the sites getting a boost but did say better network capacity is coming to staycation favourites Bath, Bognor Regis and Falmouth.

Virgin Media O2 CTO Jeanie York said: “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.”

O2 said its network is handling more traffic than ever, making the upgrades necessary. Total data usage was up 55% in peak hours in early May 2021, compared to the same week the year before, and the network carried the most data traffic ever the night of the all-English Champions League final that month.

O2 is also boosting its 5G, strengthening coverage in towns and cities and launching the next-generation network in tourist attractions like Edinburgh Castle, Bournemouth Pier, Tynemouth King Edwards Bay and Llandudno West Shore.

Visitors to some of the UK’s most popular museums and galleries, including V&A Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Natural History Museum, the Mary Rose Museum, York Castle Museum and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, can also hop onto O2’s 5G network.

O2’s 5G has lagged behind some rivals in availability and speed, with coverage largely limited to busy shopping districts and train stations. But RootMetrics’ latest assessment of the UK’s 5G networks found that O2 has made significant strides recently. It delivered the fastest median 5G download speeds in all four cities RootMetrics’ studied in its ‘5G Report Card’: Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle.

More improvements are in the works. Virgin Media O2 invested £448 million to acquire more 5G-friendly spectrum in Ofcom’s latest auction. It’s also involved in the Shared Rural Network, partnering with Three and Vodafone to build and share 222 new 4G masts in remote parts of the country as Phase One of the £1 billion project.

Despite these announcements coming from 'Virgin Media O2,' the benefits won’t extend to Virgin Mobile customers. They're still served by Vodafone’s network.

Lauren Smith
Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith has worked as a journalist and copywriter for most of the last decade, covering technology, energy, and consumer rights, in the US and UK.

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