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Internet service providers O2 and Vodafone are rumoured to be in the "advanced" stages of talks over a potential network-sharing deal.

The two companies are considering a tie-up that would result in savings on both sides and help speed up the rollout of broadband to all UK homes by 2012.

Sources close to the talks told the Financial Times that O2 and Vodafone are looking at locations of existing base stations and the possibility of spectrum sharing.

Pooling resources and sharing spectrum could see savings for mobile broadband subscribers and the addition of wireless internet coverage in rural areas.

Neither company has commented directly on the speculation, but a spokesman for Vodafone UK told the newspaper: "We regularly review our plans to ensure Vodafone UK is best placed to take advantage of network-sharing schemes now and in the future."

O2 announced earlier this year that it had beaten competition from Vodafone to secure a business mobile broadband contract with over 50s insurance specialist Saga.

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