O2 has posted a rise in revenues for the first quarter as it unveiled fresh network investment in stadiums and hotels ahead of the launch of 5G.
The mobile operator reported revenues of £1.5bn in the three months to the end of March, up 5.3 per cent on the same quarter last year, while operating profit before depreciation and amortisation rose 3.4 per cent to £440m.
O2’s total customer base increased 2.3 per cent year-on-year to 32.7m, with parent company Telefonica retaining the title of the UK’s largest network operator.
The update came as the firm unveiled a new investment plan to ramp up network connections in public spaces such as stadiums, shopping centres, hotels and conference centres.
As part of a partnership with Wireless Infrastructure Group, O2 has already installed equipment in Liverpool’s Anfield Stadium and Lord’s cricket ground.
The company will also roll out the new infrastructure in the Savoy and Ned hotels, as well as King’s Cross, Canary Wharf and City skyscraper the Cheesegrater.
“This is another good set of results building on our momentum from 2018,” said Mark Evans, chief executive of Telefonica UK.
“We have delivered further revenue and customer growth underpinned by our award-winning network and market-leading loyalty.”
O2 said it is continuing to invest more than £2m a day in its network as it prepares for the rollout of 5G. The firm previously announced it will launch the high-speed network in London, Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh by the end of the year.
But Brendan O’Reilly, O2 chief technology officer, said the firm’s focus was on providing benefits for its customers, rather than being the first to launch the new network.
“Rolling out technology for the sake of it isn’t what we do,” he told City A.M.
Telecoms analyst Paolo Pescatore said the figures reflected another strong quarter for O2, and pointed to the operator’s Priority rewards scheme as a key driver of customer retention.
“The network investment is good for its customers and the UK but feels forced upon to keep up with rivals in the race to launch 5G,” he said.
He warned the company should take a “prudent approach” towards its 5G rollout later in the year.