Mobile operator O2 has started the colossal renewal of its entire radio network. It is also using this as an opportunity to switch on 5G technology at various sites.
O2 boss Jindřich Fremuth also told Seznam Zprávy the timetable: the replacement will start in Praha 5 and in one of Prague’s suburban areas, to be followed by other towns and cities. “We will now be working with our supplier CETIN to completely change the entire radio network. We will be gradually replacing older technology with new Ericsson technology across the country and at the same time switching on 5G. To give you an idea, imagine completely changing the aerials and all the radio technology associated with them. This will involve several months’ testing to probe the optimal network setup,” says Fremuth.
Ahead of the “Czech Telecommunication Office timetable”
O2 promises that the upcoming replacement will be faster than required by the regulator. According to the Czech Telecommunication Office timetable, 70% of customers should receive the service within five years.
“I am in a position to say that we will be getting this done much faster. Needless to say, we will be starting with the most densely populated areas. There is sure to be a big focus on Prague. But we won’t be fixated solely on big cities. We’ll basically be working at district level,” Fremuth says.
Asked whether the operator will have half the population covered within two years, he says that is something he can neither confirm nor deny. “But it won’t be far off. I think that covering 50% of the population within two years is not inconceivable,” he says, adding that, while this ambition was feasible, he was not making any promises.
For the public, 5G means faster mobile data and a network suitable for connecting future smart devices – such as home appliances. For businesses, it means the possibility of building closed enterprise networks that may eventually replace today’s Wi-Fi. The operator has launched pilot 5G operations in a few towns, including Kolín, Bílina and Plzeň. “We have tested the network to see how it works on the ground,” says Fremuth, adding that the data transmission speed is some three times faster than the 4G network in Prague. “Obviously, that translates into a much faster response time, which makes for much greater interaction between the end device and the server,” Fremuth adds.
Other operators are also working on the development of 5G networks. T-Mobile launched 5G networks in Prague and Brno in early November. Last year, the operator launched the first 5G campus network in cooperation with VSB – Technical University of Ostrava.
Vodafone is the furthest ahead at the moment. The operator launched a commercial 5G network for its customers on 1 October 2020. It has recently expanded coverage to another 130 towns and villages on existing technologies, altogether accounting for around a fifth of the population.
You can watch the interview with Jindřich Fremuth on seznamzpravy.cz here.