O2 have signed a three year deal with Nokia Siemens Networks, who already supply O2's existing network, to provide upgrades to the 3G service and to enable it to start running LTE (Long Term Evolution) when licenses have been issued. 'Flexi Multiradio Base Stations' from the company will be deployed which should help future-proof the network as they are largely software controlled. This allows the devices to support both existing GSM and 3G networks whilst also being compatible with LTE through a software upgrade.
"We are committed to providing our radio equipment to power O2's great network and increasing coverage and capacity for Telefónica O2 UK.
Our Flexi Multiradio Base Station is recognized as the market leader. The hardware being delivered now, as well as providing O2 customers with faster data rates and better connectivity, will also allow support for future LTE services with a simple software upgrade.Rob Stent, (head of customer team for Telefónica O2 UK and Ireland) Nokia Siemens Networks
O2 customers shouldn't get too excited about this announcement however. Whilst improvements to the 3G network will be valued, upgrades to LTE are not likely to occur until 2014 due to the lengthy process required for the issuing of licenses by Ofcom, so the UK will continue to lag behind other countries who are already deploying LTE now.