UK MOBILE NETWORKS O2 and Vodafone are joining forces to accelerate the UK's 4G rollout, in a bid to compete against rival Everything Everywhere.
Building on their existing network sharing agreement, the mobile operators are promising to create "one grid, two networks" to ensure that 4G mobile services are installed as widely and rapidly as possible. According to O2, its extended partnership with Vodafone will bring 4G connectivity to 98 per cent of the population by 2017.
The shared grid will consist of 18,500 sites, and aims to also bring 2G and 3G network connectivity to 98 per cent of the country by 2015.
"Exceptional customer demand for the mobile internet has challenged the mobile industry to consider innovative solutions to building a nationwide network that will be fit for our customers in the future and support the products and services that will truly make Britain digital," said Ronan Dunne, CEO of O2 parent company Telefonica UK.
Vodafone UK CEO Guy Laurence said, "This partnership will close the digital divide for millions of people across the country and power the next phase of the smartphone revolution."
"This partnership will improve the service that customers receive today and give Britain the 4G networks that it will need tomorrow."
Ovum analyst Jeremy Green told The INQUIRER that the partnership is a logical step for O2 and Vodafone, which otherwise would have struggled separately to compete against Everything Everywhere.
"From both a technological and economic view it makes a lot of sense for the two firms to pool their resources in this way. We had expected the UK to follow other nations that have LTE services by only having two physical networks installed and it should lead to a quicker rollout of 4G services."
Although the networks will be sharing infrastructure they will still run independent spectrums and competing services, so it's unlikely that you'll be able to 'roam' between networks like you can with Everything Everywhere on Orange and T-Mobile. µ