Mobile Broadband Network Ltd (MBNL), the joint venture between British mobile network operators T-Mobile UK and H3G UK (3), has reportedly signed a contract with Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) worth GBP400 million (USD614.2 million) which covers the provision of 3G radio network infrastructure and mobile network planning, as well as implementation, optimisation and maintenance of the network. It is understood that the deployment of equipment is already underway, and commenting on the deal, Graham Payne, MBNL’s managing director, said: ‘Smartphone and mobile laptop data traffic growth in the UK has been unprecedented, and every sign is it will continue growing fast. With NSN, we are confident of providing the UK’s most smartphone friendly, high speed 3G network to more people in the UK than any other operator, delivering exceptional services to both T-Mobile UK and 3 subscribers.’ It has been confirmed that NSN has implemented its Multi-operator Radio Access Network (MORAN) platform as part of the project, which offers flexibility while merging two networks, enables the re-use of existing infrastructure, and allows a reduction in the number of sites.
The tie-up between the two cellcos was initially announced in December 2007, with T-Mobile UK and H3G UK agreeing to pool their respective 3G infrastructures in a 50/50 joint venture; the duo claimed the move would allow them to construct the UK’s best third-generation network more efficiently and far faster than either could independently. According to MBNL, at present its HSPA-based infrastructure covers more than 90% of the British population, and by the end of 2010 this figure is expected to rise to more than 98%. MBNL has reportedly already consolidated more than 7,000 sites of the 12,500 cell sites that the two operators have said will be merged by October 2010, and on completion of this target the JV will have switched off approximately 3,000 redundant base stations.