O2 and Vodafone network upgrade approved

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Operators given green light to create a national grid to support two competing networks, offering 2G and 3G coverage to 98 per cent of the population by 2015

O2 and Vodafone have had plans to strengthen their existing network collaboration approved by the regulatory authorities.

The operators will now pool the basic part of their network infrastructure to create a national grid that will support two independent and competing networks.

It will offer 2G and 3G coverage to 98 per cent of the UK population by 2015. The companies said it will also lay the foundations for two competing 4G networks, subject to the outcome of Ofcom’s auction of the wireless spectrum required for these services.

They added this will meet the regulatory requirement of 98 per cent population coverage, up to two years before Ofcom’s deadline of 2017.

O2 UK CEO Ronan Dunne said: “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 broader coverage and, crucially, investment in innovation and better competition for the customer. We look forward to Ofcom’s spectrum auction and the release of 800 spectrum.”

Vodafone UK CEO Guy Laurence said: “This is excellent news for British consumers, businesses and the wider economy: we are promising indoor coverage for 98 per cent of the UK population across all technologies within three years. We will bring the best mobile coverage that this country has ever enjoyed to more people than ever before.

“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.”

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