O2 switched on the first 4G trial network in the UK way back in November 2011. The 02 4G trial was undertaken with over 1000 people taking part with the trial area spanning from Canary Wharf to Hyde park. More details on the O2 4G mobile network trial here.
In June 2012, O2 and Vodafone confirmed an agreement to pool its mobile network resources to offer 2G and 3G services with the intent of hitting 98% indoor coverage by 2015. O2 and Vodafone would benefit from a national grid with over 18,500 masts which would also be prepared for a national 4G launch. Vodafone and O2 would run two competing networks for both 3G and 4G.
The idea behind the shared mobile network infrastructure is that network costs would be reduced but in addition it will offer both companies the opportunity to roll-out their 4G networks at a much faster pace than could be achieved without the joint agreement. Vodafone and O2 report that their 4G networks will offer 98% population coverage by 2015.
4G know that Vodafone are spending 1.5 million pounds a day on its 4G network and have over 5000 people working on the 4G project. We can make an assumption that O2 is committed to the same levels as this is a joint project – as outlined above.
The O2 4G launch is dependent on the Ofcom 4G auction of the 4G frequency spectrum so this means that O2 can launch its 4G network no sooner than May 2013. O2 say they are making there current 3G HSPA+ network as fast as possible while we wait for the O2 4G launch.
In the meantime, O2 has made a “4G Price Promise” to existing and new customers. O2 would be better calling this the "iPhone 5 4G Price Promise” as it only applies to the iPhone 5. The offer applies to any monthly contract purchase of an iPhone 5 from now up until the end of March 2013. If you then buy a new contract with a 4G phone O2 will give you a 10% discount with No Vat chargeable. The beauty of this upgrade is that O2 will also pay you up to £275 for your old iPhone 5.
Just to recap, the earliest O2 can launch its 4G network is May 2013 yet it could easily be later.