Advanced Television

Virgin Media O2 improves network in holiday hotspots

August 11, 2023

With a busy summer of UK staycations in full swing, Virgin Media O2 has announced a boost to its 4G and 5G mobile network, with a focus on rural areas and holiday hotspots. 

The operator has upgraded its network in more than 72,000 ‘destination’ postcodes since May last year with some of the nation’s favourite spots including the Scottish Highlands and the Hebrides, Kent, East Sussex, and Yorkshire already benefitting. These upgrades include popular seaside towns such as Whitstable, St Ives, Scarborough, and Brighton. 

Virgin Media O2 has also partnered with the Welsh Government and rural coverage experts Wavemobile to bring next generation connectivity to historic not-spots. The first area in the UK to benefit is South Stack, a nature reserve and popular tourist destination in rural Wales managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), where new technology has brought permanent mobile connectivity to the area for the first time. Visitors can now reliably access mobile signal in the area and card payments can be taken at the visitor centre in a boost to the local economy. 

The announcement comes as new research commissioned by Virgin Media O2 reveals that poor connectivity has been a problem for many peoples’ past staycations, with research revealing that over half of Brits (51 per cent) have had a UK holiday hampered by a lack of signal. The most common not-spot destinations include the Scottish Highlands and Islands (19 per cent), Yorkshire (15 per cent), and Cornwall (14 per cent). 

These negative experiences have made access to the internet table stakes for many holidaymakers, with good internet connectivity important to almost three quarters (70 per cent) of Brits when choosing a staycation destination. In fact, over half (57 per cent) would avoid choosing a rural location if it had limited or no connectivity.

According to O2 Motion data, the beginning of the summer holidays has already caused a notable spike in Brits getting away for a staycation. The aggregated and anonymous crowd movement data reveals that the first weekend of the school summer holidays saw visitor numbers at various tourism hotspots across the country rise. The data shows that North Wales is one of the most popular staycation destinations, with Gwynedd seeing a 23 per cent increase in visitors and Conwy seeing a 22 per cent rise. Scotland also provided an escape for many Brits, with Argyll and Bute (15 per cent) and Renfrewshire (12 per cent) both seeing visitor levels rise. In England, East Lindsey (19 per cent), Great Yarmouth (17 per cent), and the Isle of Wight (12 per cent) were the most popular places to visit.

Jeanie York, Chief Technology Officer at Virgin Media O2, said: “With the school summer holidays well underway, we are doubling down on improving and expanding our network so that, come rain or shine, our customers have access to the services they want wherever and whenever they need them.”

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