O2 and Vodafone have announced a joint plan to ‘to strengthen network collaboration for faster roll out of high-speed mobile services in the UK.’
Both companies will be working on creating a national grid of 18,500 sites, but will be operating on different competing bands of spectrum.
Vodafone’s press blurb mentions that 98 per cent 4G coverage for the UK will be a reality by 2015, for both indoor and outdoor locations. Current proposals would require networks to guarantee indoor speeds of at least 2Mbps by 2015, though O2 and Vodafone reckon the “actual speed received by customers is likely to be many times faster.”
Guy Laurence, CEO of 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.”
Ronan Dunne, CEO of 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.”
Two networks, one
To clarify, this will not be the same as the Orange and T-Mobile merger which created Everything Everywhere. Though the companies will be sharing mast sites, O2 will carry O2 traffic and Vodafone will carry Vodafone traffic.
The move might be prompted by aggressive noises from Everything Everywhere. The UK’s super network which serves Orange and T-Mobile customers has been lobbying Ofcom to launch 4G services this year, ahead of the big auction would will see spectrum allocated accordingly to each of the UK networks. The other networks which currently can’t offer 4G services, aren’t too chuffed about this.
So far, the O2 and Vodafone 4G collab is in the planning stages – Ofcom will need to rubber stamp the proposals after which point we’ll will hopefully be able to get an estimate of 4G will start the blue and red networks. O2 has already made some headway with a 4G live trial in London.