O2 (United Kingdom)
- "O2 UK" redirects here. For other uses, see O2 (disambiguation).
The typographical O2 logo (2002–present)
|Type||Private limited company|
|Predecessor(s)||Cellnet (July 1999)
BT Cellnet (November 2002)
|Founded||London, United Kingdom (July 28, 1983
BT Cellnet (1999)
O2 (June 18, 2002)
|Headquarters||Slough, Berkshire, United Kingdom|
|Area served||United Kingdom|
|Key people||Ronan Dunne
(CEO and Chairman)
|Revenue||£2.973 billion (2010)|
|Parent||Telefónica Europe plc|
Telefónica UK Limited (trading as O2 – stylised as O2) is a telecommunications, internet and financial services provider in the United Kingdom owned by Telefónica, forming part of its Telefónica Europe division. It is the second-largest mobile telecommunications provider in the United Kingdom (after EE) and is headquartered in Slough.
O2 was formed in 1985 as Cellnet, a 60:40 joint venture between BT Group and Securicor. In 1999 BT Group acquired Securicor's 40 percent share of Cellnet and the company was later rebranded as BT Cellnet. In June 2000 BT Cellnet launched the world’s first commercial General Packet Radio Service. BT Cellnet, together with BT Group's mobile telecommunications businesses in Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands were part of the BT Wireless division. This was spun-off from the BT Group in 2002 to form a new holding company, mmO2 plc, which introduced the new "O2" brand for the businesses. mmO2 plc was subsequently renamed O2 plc.
In 2005, it was announced that the Spanish telecommunications company Telefónica had agreed to acquire O2 plc for £18 billion. As part of the terms of the acquisition Telefónica agreed to retain the "O2" brand and the company's UK headquarters.
1985 to 2005
Between 1985 and 1989, John Carrington was the CEO of British Telecom's Mobile Division. It was during this period that Carrington founded Cellnet, launching the company's first cellular service in January 1985. Cellnet was established as a subsidiary of Telecom Securicor Cellular Radio Limited, a 60:40 joint venture between British Telecommunications and Securicor.
After months of rumours and speculation, Peter Bonfield publicly announced on 27 July 1999, that BT had agreed to buy Securicor's 40 percent share of Cellnet for £3.15nbsp;billion. The company was later rebranded as BT Cellnet, and it became a part of BT Wireless, a group of companies owned by BT. Cellnet had five million customers at the time of its acquisition.
BT announced on 3 September 2001 that the BT Wireless business would be spun-off from the main group as a newly listed holding company, mmO2 plc, operating under the "O2" brand. Shareholders approved the plan at an extraordinary general meeting on 23 October 2001.
BT Cellnet relaunched as "O2" on 18 June 2002, along with other former BT subsidiaries; Esat Digifone in Ireland, Viag Interkom in Germany and Telfort Mobiel in the Netherlands. The rebranding was supported by a European advertising campaign, which began on 16 April 2002, across all four countries, at a cost of £130 million. The main launch campaign ran from 18 June and was developed by Vallance Carruthers Coleman Priest, working alongside brand consultancy Lambie-Nairn, creators of the "O2" brand identity.
2005 to 2007: Telefónica transition
On 30 November 2005, O2 agreed to a takeover by Telefónica, a Spanish telecommunications company, for £17.7 billion (£2 per share) in cash. According to the merger announcement, O2 retained its name and continued to be based in the United Kingdom, keeping both the brand and the management team. The merger became unconditional on 23 January 2006.
Following the acquisition of O2, Telefónica undertook a corporate organisational change that saw the merging of its fixed and mobile businesses in Spain, and the transfer of Telefónica's non-Spanish European telecommunications properties into the O2 brand. Thus, the Český Telecom and Eurotel operations in the Czech Republic as well as the Telefónica Deutschland business in Germany were brought under the control of O2, which retained its U.K.-registered public company status with its own board of directors and corporate structures and processes. Telefónica chose to keep its existing mobile phone operations in the rest of the world under the brand Movistar. This name is used in Spain and in most of Latin America countries, operated by a separate management team.
Since 2007: diversification
On 15 July 2009, O2 entered the financial services industry with the launch of O2 Money, which was the first step in the process of incorporating financial services into mobile phones. Future plans include manufacturing Near Field Communication (NFC) technology in mobile phones in the United Kingdom. It was also announced that its NFC technology is ready, but pending support from large retailers and handset manufacturers before a mass rollout.
O2 and Vodafone signed a deal in June 2012 which will see the two companies 'pool' their network technology, creating a single national grid of 18,500 transmitter sites. Both networks will continue to carry their own independent mobile spectrum. O2 and Vodafone are expected to launch their 4G LTE networks in early 2013 on the 800 MHz and 2600 MHz frequency bands.
In July 2012, O2 had to apologise to almost 8 million customers after a network switching subsystem failure led to a 24-hour blackout of the service across the UK and Ireland. The problem, which prevented a third of its customers' phones registering on the network, also affected customers of MVNO networks Tesco Mobile and Giffgaff. To apologise for this, O2 announced that it would be giving hundreds of thousands of its customers compensation for the issue. Pay monthly customers received a 10% discount on their bill whereas Pay As You Go users received a 10% refund on first top up in September.
O2 publicly announced on 15 December 2009 that it had successfully demonstrated a 4G connection using LTE technology installed in six masts in Slough. The technology, which was supplied by Huawei, achieved a peak downlink rate of 150 Mbps.
In January 2012, the company announced plans to provide free internet to millions of residents and visitors in central London, by launching Europe's largest free Wi-Fi zone, along with free Wi-Fi access for anyone on any network in and around every O2 retail store.
On 20 February 2013, Ofcom announced that O2 had been awarded spectrum in the 800 MHz band for 4G LTE coverage, bidding around £550 million for the spectrum. The service is expected to become available to customers in spring or early summer 2013.
Radio frequency summary
|800 MHz||LTE (Planned)||4G|
Fixed line and broadband
Alongside mobile telephone services, the company also provides fixed line services and home broadband.
O2 purchased Be Un Limited, an internet service provider in the UK, for £50 million in June 2006. O2 retained the Be brand, and launched a separate O2-branded broadband service on 15 October 2007, using the Be network.
BSkyB agreed on 1 March 2013 to buy the fixed telephone line and broadband business of Telefonica UK, trading under the O2 and BE brands. The company agreed to pay £180 million initially, followed by a further £20 million after all customers had been transferred to Sky's existing business. The sale is subject to regulatory approval, due in April 2013.
O2 has been trialling a Near Field Communication (NFC) payment system since 2007. O2 has since been in discussions with large retailers, such as Tesco and W. H. Smith, for the deployment of the necessary electronic point of sale units, and with handset manufacturers, such as Apple and Samsung, to enable NFC technology on all future devices.
O2 issued a press release on 23 February 2011, detailing its “second phase” for O2 Money. The phase involves the company’s discontinuation its O2 branded cash cards and the release of a “mobile wallet” application for Android and iOS devices. The application will use NFC technology embedded in a phone to access money.
O2 adopted the slogan "See what you can do" in 2002 after the company's demerger from BT Cellnet. The slogan was later changed to "It's your O2" in May 2006, and again on 10 April 2008 to "We’re better, connected", as part of a brand refresh that cost £5 million.
The O2 (Millennium Dome)
O2 is the sponsor of The O2 Arena. Since its launch in 2007 the Millennium Dome has been transformed and rebranded by O2 into an entertainment venue. O2 customers can get Priority Tickets up to 48 hours before they are released to the general public. The O2 offers exclusive areas for O2 customers, including the blueroom bar and the O2 lounge, where access is granted through new mobile technology bar codes. Once inside, O2 customers can change their experience of these areas by dictating the wallpaper designs and jukebox requests through text. O2 also contributed 'O2 angels', a team of people trained to greet and direct visitors, providing a warm human face to the brand. Other smaller touches include changing the lighting, carpets and seats in the arena to the colour blue.
The O2 Arena was the site of the artistic gymnastics events and medal rounds in basketball for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
O2 is partnered with Live Nation and the Academy Music Group, allowing O2 to rename the music venues. The partnership allows O2 to offer customers priority access to all events at O2 Academy venues as well as Live Nation promoted events across the United Kingdom.
O2 customers receive 48 hour pre-sales access to approximately 4,500 events each year as well as perks at the venues themselves and access to a consistent flow of content. Perks include; unique O2 Academy Angels in the venue with giveaways; a warm up bar with bespoke music themed furniture and games, free artist content bluetoothed to customers phones and live experiences such as mobile phone "tattooing".
O2 Academy venues:
In February 2009, O2 became the first mobile telecommunications provider to be certified with the Carbon Trust Standard in recognition of its commitment to reduce its carbon footprint. O2 attained the standard after saving 47,000 tonnes of carbon over the previous three years through its energy efficiency measures, including a £1.4 million distribution of smart metering technology across the company's cell sites, offices and retail stores, and upgrades to more energy efficient systems across its mobile phone network. In addition to distributing energy efficient LED lighting and boiler system controls, the company was also able to reduce energy use by removing air conditioning units from some of its cell sites and reducing computer monitor standby times.
O2 is a voluntary participant in the 10:10 climate change campaign, which requires participants to cut their carbon emissions by 10 percent by the end of 2010. The campaign was launched on 1 September 2009 at the Tate Modern in London, and now has 20,000 individual participants, 1,000 businesses, and 500 other bodies.
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