O2 UK pledges 3G mobile broadband capacity upgrade

Mobile operator O2 UK has announced new investment worth hundreds of millions of pounds over the coming years to help extend the coverage and capacity of its Mobile Broadband network. The process will involve both building and upgrading 1,500 base-station sites around the country to improve upon its 85% 3G HSPA coverage and keep up with growing data demands.

The rollout will begin with up to 40 new sites going live in London before Christmas, with a further 160 to follow over the next 12 months. It's understood that some of the 1,500 sites will actually be upgrades from existing 2G to 3G base stations; it is not known what proportion of the figure this work represents.

O2 claims to have already spent £500m over the past two years upon improving its network and supporting popular Smartphone's like Apple's iPhone and the Palm Pre. Upgrades like this are also necessary if Mobile Broadband is to be used as a partial solution for the governments USC, which promises to make a minimum broadband speed of 2Mbps available to everybody by 2012.

Rival operators will also need to make similar investments if they are to stay competitive, which could prove difficult at a time when many lack the spare cash to perform such work. It doesn't help that Mobile Broadband services, while still growing in popularity, are not returning enough revenue to keep pace with rising usage.

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