Everything Everywhere, the company that operates Orange and T-Mobile in the UK, is investing over £1.5bn over the next few years to merge its two mobile networks and roll out next-generation 4G network technology as soon as possible.
The new plans include further integration of the existing Orange and T-Mobile 2G and 3G networks, which will enable subscriber handsets to seamlessly and automatically roam to whichever of the two has the strongest signal in a given location.
This move will come sometime in 2012, according to the firm. In the meantime, the company is in the final stages of the preliminary "big switch on" that will enable Orange and T-Mobile customers to use 2G and 3G signals from either network, which it claimed will deliver the widest 3G coverage in the UK.
Everything Everywhere also said it is investing in upgrading its backhaul network capacity and installing new equipment that can be upgraded easily to support 4G networks once the appropriate wireless spectrum becomes available.
Olaf Swantee, chief executive of Everything Everywhere, said the new investment was necessary as mobile data traffic has increased by 250 per cent over the past two years, and is still growing.
"We believe that the UK requires a 21st century infrastructure and are committed to rolling out 4G as soon as possible to support growing data use, connect parts of the country with little or no mobile broadband, and drive economic growth," he said.
The company has already been working with BT on a trial of the 4G LTE technology in Cornwall, offering mobile internet speeds up to a theoretical maximum of 100Mbit/s.
This investment is being touted as a potential solution to the dearth of broadband internet access in some rural areas, but is not expected to be generally available in the UK before 2014.
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