Regulator Ofcom today said mobile phone operator O2 had met its extended deadline to roll out 3G services to at least 80% of the UK population.
Ofcom warned in February it would shorten O2’s 3G licence by four months if it did not comply with the roll-out obligation by June 30.
However, the regulator said the target had now been achieved.
The other four holders of 3G licences, including Vodafone and T-Mobile, complied with Ofcom’s original requirement for the end of December – at which stage O2’s network covered 75.69% of the population, a shortfall equivalent to around 2.5 million people.
O2 acquired its 3G licence in 2000 for £4bn (€5.1bn). It is due to run until the end of December 2021, but Ofcom action could have reduced this to August 2021 at an estimated cost to O2 of at least £40m (€51m).
The company, which is owned by Spain’s Telefonica, said in February that it was confident of meeting Ofcom’s new target, adding that its strategy had been to target areas of most demand.
The 3G technology enables consumers to watch video and television and access the internet via mobile phones.