The two networks revealed they will be working together to create a UK 4G network that will see them pool their infrastructure but run on separate spectrum.
By partnering on this, O2 and Vodafone should be able to deliver 4G mobile services up to two years ahead of Ofcom’s requirement of 98% coverage by 2017 – with plans to deliver these services by 2015.
Both networks will continue to compete for customers and will each have access to around 18,500 sites, an increase of more than 40% for each operator.
Ronan Dunne, CEO of O2 parent company Telefónica UK said: “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. This partnership is about working smarter as an industry, so that we can focus on what really matters to our customers – delivering a superfast network up to two years faster than Ofcom envisages and to as many people as possible. One physical grid, running independent networks, will mean greater efficiency, fewer site builds, broader coverage and, crucially, investment in innovation and better competition for the customer.”
Guy Laurence, CEO Vodafone UK said: “This partnership will close the digital divide for millions of people across the country and power the next phase of the smartphone revolution. It will create two stronger players who will compete with each other and with other operators to bring the benefits of mobile internet services to consumers and businesses across the country. We have learned a lot from our existing network collaboration but now it is time for it to evolve. This partnership will improve the service that customers receive today and give Britain the 4G networks that it will need tomorrow.”
Created to accelerate the rollout of 4G services in the UK, O2 and Vodafone will retain “complete control” over their wireless spectrum, intelligent core networks and customer data.
This plan is subject to gaining the green light from Ofcom as well as the outcome of the 4G auction planned for later this year.
Everything Everywhere is also awaiting approval from Ofcom, on its proposal to offer 4G services using its existing 2G spectrum.