UK cellcos mulling network sharing agreements

12 Mar 2009

British broadsheet The Guardian is reporting that UK cellcos Vodafone and O2 are planning to combine their network infrastructures. Talks between the two operators are reported to be at an ‘advanced stage’ and an announcement on the tie-up is expected within the next few weeks. Additionally, it is believed that Orange, which already has a network sharing agreement with Vodafone, may ask T-Mobile and Hutchison 3G UK for permission to join the two operator’s network sharing venture, Mobile Broadband Network Ltd (MBNL). All five operators, despite the rumoured link-ups, will continue using their own brand names. The sharing agreements could see a reduction in the approximately 51,000 base stations across the UK, in turn reducing operating costs for all of the cellcos. It is expected that both the Office of Fair Trading and the Competition Commission will consider any deals, however, in a bid to ensure that competition in the wireless sector will not be reduced.