Vodafone and Telefónica (the parent company of O2) have announced that they will be teaming up to share 18,500 mobile sites in an effort to bring better 3G and 4G services to the United Kingdom. The companies are hoping to provide 98% indoor coverage for 2G and 3G networks by 2015, while laying the foundations for faster 4G services in the near future.
Despite the new partnership, both companies insist that they will continue to offer competing services on different mobile frequencies. However, they will consolidate cell towers and masts and share the same basic infrastructure. According to their joint statement, this will lead to an increase in sites of more than 40% for each operator:
A new 50/50 joint venture company will be created through the consolidation of both Telefónica UK and Vodafone UK’s existing basic network infrastructure, including towers and masts, which will be transferred to the joint venture or decommissioned over time.
Under the proposals, both companies will have access to a single grid of 18,500 masts representing an increase in sites of more than 40% for each operator. The joint venture will also be responsible for the building of new sites needed to extend coverage into rural and remote areas.
The benefit of sharing means that Vodafone and O2 will now be able to decommission duplicate sites throughout the U.K. So even though there will be an increase in sites of more than 40% for each, the number of sites overall can actually be reduced by around 10%.
Not only will the deal bring better 2G and 3G coverage to Vodafone and O2 customers, but it will also bring better 4G services, and a faster rollout than if both companies attempted to upgrade their networks for 4G independently.
The deal appears to be an effort to compete with a similar arrangement from Orange and T-Mobile, which recently joined up to form Everything Everywhere, which allows customers to switch between 3G networks from each company to get the best signal.
[via The Next Web]