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Vodafone and O2 announce plans to share 4G LTE network
Friday 08 June 2012 15:26:46 by John Hunt

Vodafone / O2

Vodafone and O2 have announced that they plan to make one LTE network in the UK. The companies will share masts to provide access to the latest 4G services, but will continue to compete at the customer level. The companies plan to share 18,500 masts which will both extend 2G and 3G coverage whilst also offering 4G to 98% of the population by 2015, two years ahead of the requirement data from Ofcom. Each network will operate using it's own frequencies which would be obtained from the 4G spectrum auction.

"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. We have learned a lot from our existing network collaboration but now it is time for it to evolve. This partnership will improve the service that customers receive today and give Britain the 4G networks that it will need tomorrow."

Guy Laurence, (Chief Executive) Vodafone

"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. One physical grid, running independent networks, will mean greater efficiency, fewer site builds, broader coverage and, crucially, investment in innovation and better competition for the customer."

Ronan Dunne, (Chief Executive) O2

This is not the first instance of O2 and Vodafone sharing masts in the UK. Back in 2009, the two companies set up the Cornerstone project which set out to see how they could work together to share masts, and later worked to integrate networks too, in a bid to reduce the overhead costs the companies are seeing.


Posted by Kushan over 4 years ago
Any word on what Three are going to do?

They're going to look right stupid if they end up being the only network "designed for the mobile internet" without 4G.
Posted by jrawle over 4 years ago
@Kushan won't they need to change their name before moving to the next generation network?
Posted by Scotty141 over 4 years ago
Do you know when this will happen?
Posted by jtthedevil over 4 years ago
At the moment 3 work with Orange for their 2g network. I think the plan is to continue this sharing so the two main providers will be Vodafone/O2 and Orange/T Mobile/3. This will be similar to the BT/Virgin Media supply, with a number of resellers below that. Think this works out at about 18,000 masts for each of the suppliers.
Posted by otester over 4 years ago
It'd be nice if they all teamed up, be a lot more efficient.
Posted by mhc over 4 years ago

At last ... Cellnet (as they were) and Vodafone wanted to share masts and backhaul in te remote parts of Scotland many years ago and it would have improved service to large numbers of people - but it was stopped, as I understand, after complaints about anti-competitive behaviour were made.

Posted by chrysalis over 4 years ago
we already behind 2015 is a very late date, people already using 4G in america. I think there should be just one network between all providers and no silly bidding war which has wasted so much cash probably why our 3G services are so poor.
Posted by otester over 4 years ago

It's not 4G, it's 3.9G.

LTE Advanced hasn't been deployed yet.
Posted by vicdupreez over 4 years ago
Another question... and I really do not know the answer... Why is 4G (3.9G or whatever) in the UK different from 4G in the US... does it not make sense to use the same technology the world over, so that everyone can travel with their handset and it just works?
Posted by csteinle over 4 years ago
@vicdupreez - LTE is the 4G standard that's pretty much been settled on the world over. However, there's even more frequency bands than 3G/UMTS and 2G/GSM before it, so while the "logic" in the phones will be the same, they won't necessarily work abroad. However, phones will slowly start to support more and more frequency bands as the technology becomes more mature, the same way it happened with GSM and UMTS.
Posted by mitchja over 4 years ago
The US always seems to go their own way when it comes to mobile network standards. A lot of their existing 2G and 3G also isn't compatible with other countries.
Posted by vicdupreez over 4 years ago
@csteinle. Thanks. That is the bit I was missing :).

@ mitchja. Yeah... The fact that Verizon and Sprint are still using CDMA is a bit of a nightmare. It was explained to me by an AT&T labs guy (so take from it what you will) that at the time digital networks came along, Vz and Sprint gambled, and lost :D.
Posted by otester over 4 years ago

No, regulators have just let companies get away with mislabeling their products.

It will be interesting to see if they get away with it over here.
Posted by caterps over 4 years ago
- vicdupreez - it was all to do with the USA technology giants not wanting to go with GSM, the same as Europe & indeed almost everywhere ROW except Japan etc. They wanted to do their own thing rather than be constrained by "regulation". They thought they had better technology too but who remembers Betamax?
Posted by vicdupreez over 4 years ago
LOL. True...
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