O2 upgrades London network to meet iPhone demand

Good news for existing smartphone users on the O2 UK network, but it’s more likely the impending arrival of the iPhone 4 later this month was the kick the carrier needed to improve its data network in the capital.

An announcement on Wednesday reveals that O2 has contracted Nokia Siemens Networks to beef up its base stations in London in order to meet growing smartphone demand.

Telecoms.com likes to think it had something to do with this. With a high concentration of iPhone users at Informa Towers we’ve been badgering the carrier for months to sort out the persistent issues with dropped calls and lack of coverage.

As Nigel Purdy, head of technology at O2 UK puts it “O2 is the home of the smartphone in the UK” and the operator, like fellow early iPhone adopter AT&T, has become infamously linked with somewhat lacking capabilities to deal with the high demand for data capacity.

But that’s all over now, O2 claims, and O2 smartphone users in London can now enjoy faster upload and download speeds, longer battery life and better coverage. Just in time too – the shiny new iPhone 4 will make its glassy presence known on the network June 24.

Purdy doesn’t shy away from the issue, “There is unprecedented demand on mobile networks, particularly in dense urban areas,” he said. And network supplier NSN has addressed these concerns before. Back in February, we spoke to Michael Matthews, head of strategy and business development at NSN about this exact problem and what NSN was doing to fix it. Memorably he replied: “We know what an iPhone can do to an Ericsson base station, it can kill it.”

The company was then working on methodology to monitor and analyze the data and signalling behaviour of different smart devices connected to the mobile network. This insight, combined with traffic growth forecasts, was used to establish a capacity improvement project for O2, upgrading only the network elements and modules identified as bottlenecks for current and future performance.

The upgrade included enhancing the signalling capacity of the network as well as modernizing the network with Flexi Multiradio base stations from NSN that increases network capacity significantly by doubling the number of mobile sectors from three to six in each base station’s area of coverage resulting in the ability to carry significantly more voice and data calls in O2’s network.

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  • the O2-UK network in Northern Ireland is apalling and lacking in 3G coverage outside Belfast.

    In other towns we only have GPRS data coverage and not even EDGE!

    Compare this to the Republic of Ireland where the O2-IRL Network has 3G HSPA coverage in most towns and EDGE coverage in other areas!

    Reply to Rónán on O2 beefs up network to meet smartphone demand
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