updated 09:55 am EDT, Fri May 2, 2008
O2 Finishes 3G Rollout
British telecoms regulator Ofcom today confirmed that national carrier O2 has met its minimum targets for a rollout of 3G Internet service in the country. The cellular provider is said to have supplied at least 80 percent of the UK's population with the faster wireless Internet service. O2's buildout helps the company avoid the equivalent of a $79.6 million fine if it failed to expand its coverage area by the end of June, six months after the official goal of December 31st, 2007. Of the five carriers authorized for 3G, only O2 has taken as much time to reach its necessary target, Ofcom says.
The comparatively slow implementation has not affected O2's overall success in the market, which has led to the company frequently enjoying the largest individual share of the market, but has led to criticism of the company for failing to supply some fringe areas with improved Internet speeds.
O2's expansion will also be critical for the deployment of an expected 3G iPhone, which will likely arrive at the carrier later this year and is considered essential to wider adoption of the Apple device in a territory more familiar with high-speed access than in North America, where EDGE is much more widespread.
The company was originally under pressure to complete an EDGE network in time for the release of the current iPhone, though regulations are believed to have had a greater impact on the more recent 3G expansion than any near-term plans by Apple to replace its touchscreen device.