U.K. mobile operators O2 and EE expanded the footprint of their 5G networks in the country, both firms said in separate statements.

O2, owned by Spanish telecommunications giant Telefonica, said that its nationwide 5G network now reaches 150 towns and cities across the UK.

The telco said that it recently launched 5G services in new locations including Bournemouth, Cheltenham, Doncaster and Southampton, while it has significantly increased its 5G coverage footprint in bigger cities such as London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Bristol, Liverpool and Manchester.

O2 also said that it will continue to expand its 5G coverage in urban areas through more cell sites, in-building solutions and small cell deployments.

“We are delighted with the progress of our 5G rollout and to be able to offer customers in over 150 locations the benefits of our new high-speed network,” said Derek McManus, COO of O2.

“Once again, we are facing tough lockdown restrictions and we are focused on ensuring we meet the demand for increased network capacity and reliability to keep everyone connected during this time,” the executive said.

O2 launched its 5G network in the UK in October 2019. O2’s 5G network was initially available in certain areas of Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London, Slough and Leeds. The carrier said that the initial focus for its 5G network was on highly populated areas including railway stations, shopping centers and sports stadiums.

The carrier is deploying its 5G infrastructure in partnership with Nordic vendors Ericsson and Nokia.

O2’s operations are headed toward a major transition. In May of 2020, Liberty Global and Telefonica reached an agreement to merge their U.K. operations in a 50-50 joint venture. This move brings together O2 with cable operator Virgin Media and its MVNO Virgin Mobile.

Liberty Global and Telefonica previously said that the transaction is expected to close by mid-2021 and is subject to regulatory approvals.

In related news, U.K. operator EE, part of the BT Group, announced it has switched on 5G in an additional 13 towns across the country.

Some of the latest cities to receive EE’s 5G coverage include Burton-upon-Trent, Cannock, Halifax, Ipswich, Leamington Spa, Middlesbrough, St Albans, Stockport, Swinton and Tamworth.

EE launched the UK’s first 5G service in May 2019 and has now expanded to 125 towns and cities across the UK. In the last 12 months, EE has also more than doubled its amount of 5G sites in key cities such as Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff and Edinburgh.

EE initially launched 5G technology in London, Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff, Birmingham and Manchester. Other large cities in which the telco offers 5G coverage includes Bristol, Covently,  Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Sunderland.

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