updated 04:40 pm EDT, Fri September 7, 2007
O2 EDGE Upgrade
British cellular provider O2 is in the midst of adding EDGE mobile Internet access to its network, an internal memo leaked to Engadget reveals. The company's technicians are reportedly upgrading its GPRS towers to incorporate support for the protocol across its entire network and is focusing primarily on larger cities as well as areas that have been more likely to use the slower GPRS format in the past. A precise completion date was not specified, but the rollout is slated to finish within "a few weeks," according to the note.
Reasoning for the upgrade was similarly omitted from the document, though speculation from numerous sources strongly suggests a connection to a UK release of the iPhone. O2's network already supports 3G-class Internet access through the HSDPA and UMTS standards and so would have no immediate reason to adopt EDGE, which is often considered 2.5G and frequently goes unsupported by Europe-only phones.
O2 has already mentioned that it was in talks with Apple and has allegedly seen the personal involvement of its chief executive in trying to secure an exclusive deal for the UK, where Orange, T-Mobile, and Vodafone could also make bids to offer the device. Apple has stopped short of announcing an exact window for when the iPhone will be available in the country but has said it would make a version available in the region during the fourth quarter of the year.