O2 betting on 4G revival as it signs up new customers

O2, the UK’s second-biggest mobile operator, yesterday claimed that it was returning to growth as it gears up for the launch of 4G services.

The network, owned by Spanish giant Telefonica, signed 251,000 extra people up to contracts in the three months to April, the fastest first-quarter growth it had seen in four years. Although it lost almost as many pay-as-you-go users, it still registered growth of 46,000 in its customer base as its main rival, Orange and T-Mobile owner EE, lost users.

EE lost 406,000 mobile users in the first quarter, although it remains the UK’s biggest network by users, with 25.7m compared to O2’s 22.9m.

Despite O2’s customer growth, revenues fell by 4.8 per cent annually, mainly due to Ofcom cracking down on operators’ extra charges.

O2 is counting on a boost from the launch of high-speed 4G networks this summer.