O2 and Vodafone set to combine 3G and 4G networks
Vodafone and O2 have been given the green light to combine their 2G, 3G and - eventually - 4G network infrastructure.
Having been approved by regulatory authorities, the move will see the two mobile operators pool the basic part of their infrastructure, creating a single national grid capable of supporting two independent networks.
By 2015, the scheme will deliver 2G and 3G coverage to 98 per cent of the UK population, while laying the foundation for two competing 4G super-fast mobile broadband networks.
These 4G services will be available to 98 per cent of UK citizens up to two years ahead of Ofcom's 2017 deadline, O2 and Vodafone pledged.
Ronan Dunne, chief executive of O2's parent company Telefonica UK, said the partnership will help the carriers focus on the delivery of a next-generation mobile network.
"One physical grid, running independent networks, will mean broader coverage," he explained.
Vodafone UK chief executive Guy Laurence added: "Our existing customers will benefit on the devices that they have today and we will lay the foundations for the real 4G network they will want tomorrow."
The agreement is similar to the existing network-sharing arrangement between rival operators 3 Mobile and Everything Everywhere, the owner of Orange and T-Mobile.