O2 and Vodafone have announced plans to share their infrastructure of 2G and 3G services and to ensure the widest possible coverage for 4G when it is available.
Whilst the two companies will not be sharing network spectrum, they will merge their sites to form a single grid of 18,500 sites. Not only does this reduce their cost of infrastructure, it will increase their coverage capabilities in order to meet the minimum coverage requirements set by Ofcom which is 98% of indoor coverage. It will also enable the two firms to deliver 4G services far quicker than if they worked independently.
The plan is for O2 to manage and maintain the East of the UK including Northern Ireland and Scotland, whilst Vodafone will look after the West including Wales.
The new partnership has been announced while Everything Everywhere (a make up of Orange and T-Mobile) are in the process of trying to get Ofcom to allow them to launch 4G services ahead of the spectrum auction using their existing spectrum bandwidths.