New O2 CEO Ronan Dunne defended the network today in light of Ofcom's public deadline that the operator needs to improve its 3G coverage.
Ofcom said earlier this week that O2 has to reach 80% of the population with 3G coverage by June (currently 75.7%). O2, like all the other operators, was supposed to reach 80% coverage by the end of last year.
Dunne told Mobile magazine that the operator would be no later than two months after the June deadline. The operator has a shortfall of 2.5 million people in the UK out of reach of its 3G network.
Dunne added: ‘We've set out our programme about really good quality 3G, and focussing on where the customer demand is. We were a couple of months out.
‘We've worked with Ofcom that we will very quickly make up the difference without a reduction in quality.'
O2 is seen as badly positioned on the 3G network front, as it trails behind the other networks in terms of the breadth of its 3G coverage.
Perhaps more worryingly for O2, it has been left without a partner as the other big four networks have paired up in network share deals.
3 and T-Mobile have started putting calls through on their shared networks, and Vodafone and Orange are at the first phase of their arrangement.
Dunne said O2 would use its network as ‘a key component to differentiate' from the competition who are effectively sharing any competitive advantage on network strength.
He even said the potential cost savings were being exaggerated. ‘There is complexity in the network sharing programmes.'
Referring to the fact that Vodafone and Orange have been forced into a diluted arrangement after the more ambitious plans set out in February last year, Dunne said: ‘You will have noticed that there isn't as much cost reduction in Vodafone and Orange as they hoped and they will have to park a lot of the elements [of network sharing].'
Dunne took over from Matthew Key as O2's UK chief executive at the start of the year,. Having previously been the chief financial officer.