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O2 UK bolsters WiFi hotspots ahead of 3G iPhone

16 июня 2008

O2 UK Friday announced a deal with BT Openzone to make a further 3,000 WiFi hotspots available to its iPhone customers.

Combined with its agreement with WiFi provider The Cloud, the mobile operator said that subscribers can now access high-speed Internet connections in more than 9,000 locations.

This move could be seen as an attempt by O2 to head off any concerns that its 3G network coverage might not be up to scratch.

"O2's [3G] coverage was until recently considered insufficient by Ofcom," said John Delaney, research director, consumer mobile, at IDC.

Anything they can do to mitigate the criticism they've received about their 3G network, including increasing the number of WiFi hotspots, will be worthwhile," he told Total Telecom.

In February Ofcom threatened to cut O2's 3G licence short by four months if it didn't speed up the rollout of its 3G network.

The terms of O2's contract with the
U.K. regulator stated that it must provide high-speed mobile coverage to at least 80% of the population by the end of 2007.

Yet when the deadline passed, O2's 3G network covered 75.7% of the population, while the other mobile network operators and 3G licensees - Vodafone, T-Mobile, Orange and 3 - had all managed to meet Ofcom's requirements.

O2 has since met its obligations, with Ofcom confirming in early May that the operator had hit the 80% target.

The availability of the new hotspots will coincide with the launch of Apple's highly-anticipated new 3G iPhone, which will go to market initially in 22 countries on 11 July.

Still, with all the hype focused on a 3G version of Apple's coveted handset, isn't it a little unusual to hear O2 talk up its WiFi credentials?

"Even if you've got 3G coverage, WiFi is still going to give you quicker connection speeds," said Delaney.

"The time it will take for me to download a song off iTunes will be considerably less on WiFi than it will on 3G," he commented.

Источник: Total Telecom

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