O2 to roll out fibre nationwide

Telefónica’s UK subsidiary O2 has announced its intention to deploy a full fibre core network throughout the country, touching on 19 connectivity points from Glasgow, Scotland to Salisbury in the South West.

As part of the process, O2 has signed a 15-year agreement with bandwidth infrastructure provider Zayo Group to manage the transition from its traditional SDH and Ethernet-based managed services infrastructure to a dedicated fibre optic network.

The fibre-based network will connect mobile switching sites, and O2 claims that its installation will allow more flexible management of increasing data demands imposed by its 4G rollout and increasing consumer demand for data services.

O2 currently serves more than 23 million customers in the UK as well as half of MVNO Tesco Mobile, with its 4G network now covering more than half the UK population. As such, CTO Adrian Di Meo feels that now is the right time for an overhaul of its current infrastructure, in the face ever increasing consumption of data and services.

“With the O2 4G network now covering over 260 towns and cities and half of the UK population, there has been unprecedented growth in the amount of data traffic transmitted across the network,” he said. “A year after the launch of our 4G network, it has already carried a total of 5,400 Terabytes of 4G data, which is the equivalent of eight million hours of HD video”.

“Deploying high capacity core fibre is essential when faced with this increase in data traffic and the resilience and reliability of our network is important for customers,” he said.

Di Meo also elaborated on why O2 chose Zayo to provide its core network fibre optic infrastructure: “Zayo’s track record, expertise and experience made them a natural choice to provide this fibre optic infrastructure,” he said. “The new backbone will continue to help deliver a great digital experience for our customers”.

In the face of growing 4G subscriber numbers, and intensifying competition from the likes of EE, O2 finds itself in a position of future proofing its network. According to Ovum’s World Cellular Information Service, O2 currently sits second in the UK’s mobile subscriptions market, occupying 32.14% market share as of September 2014, with EE currently top of the pile with 34.89%. It appears that O2’s latest investment is an attempt to bridge that gap with higher coverage and quality of service.

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