In news that’s been waiting in the wings for a while, Telefonica UK and Vodafone UK have announced today that they have been given the regulatory go-ahead for a collaborative network. The pair claim that the deal will offer 2G and 3G coverage to “98% of the UK population by 2015.”

The end-point goal is for the two providers to boost 4G coverage across the UK, as we found when the partnership was announced in June of this year. The companies didn’t feel that they could accomplish the goal of 98% coverage by 2017 going it alone, but the partnership approval should make matters easier.

The plans were submitted to the Office of Fair Trading in August, with the formation of a company called CTI Ltd as the goal. The new company will manage and own the infrastructure that presently belongs to the two individual carriers.

The interesting twist here is that the infrastructure deal does not include spectrum, and the two companies will continue to compete against each other for all products and services. This move is almost definitely made in order to ensure that there are no monopolistic practices between the two, but the improved access will almost certainly drive more customers to the two carriers in the UK.

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