Vodafone and O2 have had their plans to merge their network infrastructures approved, which should help them offer improved 2G and 3G coverage and ensure a wide base for 4G services when available.
The plans were first announced in June in part response to the huge network created by the formation of Everything Everywhere (EE) between the two networks of T- Mobile and Orange.
The firms have now confirmed they have been given the necessary approvals by the Office for Fair Trading (OFT) and Ofcom.
The two firms will split the design, management and maintenance of the network into different geographical areas. O2 will manage the East of the UK, including Northern Ireland and Scotland, and Vodafone the West, including Wales.
Ronan Dunne, chief executive of O2, said that working together would help the firm deliver 4G networks faster and improve customers' experience.
"One physical grid, running independent networks, will mean broader coverage and, crucially, investment in innovation and better competition for the customer," he said.
Guy Laurence, chief executive of Vodafone, promised that the firms would ensure indoor coverage for 98 percent of the UK population for all mobile services within three years.
"We will bring the best mobile coverage that this country has ever enjoyed to more people than ever before," he added.
Ian Fogg, a telecoms analyst at IHS Screen Digest, told V3 the approval was a significant moment in the mobile market nd had several potential impacts on the market.
"For the operators it will help them improve their coverage of 3G services and save costs by reducing their network infrastructure ownership," he said.
"The UK mobile market is changing now so as where before there were five licenced operators with five different infrastructures we are now moving towards only two major sets of equipment."
O2 and Vodafone were both furious that EE was given the green light to start offering 4G services on its existing 2G and 3G network.
The two had argued this was unfair and a distortion of the market ahead of 4G auctions.
Reports surfaced on Monday that the government is set to hold crisis talks with the operators on Tuesday to try and stamp out any legal action around this decision.
The merger approval for O2 and Vodafone on network equipment could appease the firms in light of that decision, but it's likely they will push for an early auction if possible.
"The fact EE essentially has a head-start because it can use its existing spectrum for LTE could destabilise the competitive dynamic in the market, which is why it's important the auctions for the other 4G spectrum happen as soon as possible," added Fogg.
EE is set to start offering 4G services in 12 cities before the year's end, including London, Bristol and Cardiff.
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