[8th July 2021]: 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.
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 and 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.”
 O2 won Best Network Coverage in the uSwitch Broadband & Mobile Awards 4 years in a row from 2018 to 2021. Global Wireless Solutions (GWS) also awarded O2 the Best Network for Reliability for three years running: 2019, 2020 and now in 2021.
 Polling by YouGov in April 2021 to over 2000 participants
 Total data traffic on the O2 network was measured on w/e 8 May 2021 compared to w/e 9 May 2020.