A new network sharing agreement will enable the rival firms to achieve 98 per cent coverage in the UK by 2015, two years earlier than the Ofcom deadline.
This will allow more consumers and businesses to take advantage of mobile broadband services on dongles, smartphones and media tablets.
Ronan Dunne, Chief Executive of Telefónica - parent company of O2 - said the new partnership is about "working smarter as an industry". It will allow the companies to focus on "what really matters" to broadband customers – delivering a super-fast network 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," he stated. "We look forward to Ofcom’s spectrum auction and the release of 800MHz spectrum.”
Vodafone UK's Chief Executive Guy Laurence said the partnership 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," he stated. "We will bring the best mobile coverage that this country has ever enjoyed to more people than ever before."
Good news all round, even if it will take a year or two for all this to shake down, as it did for the T-Mobile/Orange hook-up (creating Everything Everywhere and EE, though admittedly the degree of partnership in this latter case was far deeper).
Of course, the partnership doesn't help at all for the many blackspots around the UK where there's no data coverage at all or just ultra-slow GPRS. Here's hoping the new company (whatever it's called) also invests in more masts, full-stop.....