O2 have announced today that they plan on partnering with Vodafone to share their ‘network infrastructure’ (masts, towers etc.) to “create one national grid running each operator’s independent spectrum”.
Now before you get too excited, this isn’t sharing of networks, or allowing cross roaming in weak signal areas like Orange and T-Mobile have done under the umbrella of Everything Everywhere.
The idea being with shared infrastructure the two companies can expand each networks 3G and 4G coverage faster, and at less cost. Under the plan, both companies will have 98% 3G coverage outdoors and *indoors* by the end of 2015 and the same levels of 4G coverage by the end of 2017.
All current infrastructure will be transferred to ownership the of a new joint venture company creating a single grid of 18,500 masts representing an increase in sites of more than 40% for each operator. Additionally by more efficient shared usage of masts and towers they plan on actually decreasing the total number of towers in use by more than 10%.
Both companies will retain complete control over their wireless spectrum, intelligent core networks and customer data.
Ronan Dunne, CEO Telefónica UK said:
Exceptional customer demand for the mobile internet has challenged the mobile industry to consider innovative solutions to building a nationwide network that will be fit for our customers in the future and support the products and services that will truly make Britain digital. This partnership is about working smarter as an industry, so that we can focus on what really matters to our customers – delivering a superfast network up to two years faster than Ofcom envisages and to as many people as possible. One physical grid, running independent networks, will mean greater efficiency, fewer site builds, broader coverage and, crucially, investment in innovation and better competition for the customer.
Source: O2 Press Office