UK mobile operators Vodafone and Orange have signed a mobile mast site sharing agreement for their 2G and 3G networks, effective from this year, to deliver operational cost savings as well as end-user and environmental benefits. Both companies will continue to maintain separate networks under the deal although Vodafone is confident the move will result in a 15% reduction in the number of operational mast sites, or 3,000 in total, in the first two years of the contract. The decision to combine their radio access networks will effectively allow customers of each to roam between the two networks. The idea has been mooted in the past, but technical problems have prevented any formal adoption of such a plan. The two cellcos’ 2G networks operate at different frequencies making the tie-up here suitable only if and when ‘technical solutions become available’ to make it feasible. The situation concerning 3G sharing is easier given that both use the 2100MHz band, though there are obstacles to overcome. Vodafone sources its W-CDMA equipment from Ericsson, while Orange uses a mix of Nortel, Nokia Siemens Networks and Alcatel-Lucent equipment. Vodafone said the two firms would also benefit from the cost synergies relating to the mast sharing deal, enabling them to free up more money for investment in new products and services for end users. Orange will also benefit from a small increase in its operational coverage area.