updated 05:51 pm EDT, Thu June 7, 2012
Combined network to increase coverage and smooth 4G rollout
Mobile carriers Vodafone UK and Telefonica UK (known as O2) are going to work together to create a shared network grid, the two companies have announced. The combined efforts of the two networks will see an increased coverage area for both companies in the short term, and a smoother national rollout of LTE services, currently aimed for the year 2015. LTE or "4G" services, currently nonexistent in the UK, could be rolled out quicker by the carriers working in concert.
The pooling of network resources by the two companies gives both sides an advantage in terms of network coverage, with regulator Ofcom requiring 98 percent of national coverage by 2017. The existing mast networks will be consolidated, making a single grid of 18,500 masts, an increase of 40 percent to each side. The cooperation does not signal a merger between the two companies, nor does it allow for spectrum sharing, but it will keep Vodafone and O2 competing against one another.
Everything Everywhere, the merger of separate brands T-Mobile and Orange, has already made plans for its own LTE rollout, which Ofcom approved in March.