Irish mobile network operators Vodafone and 3 Ireland have signed a joint venture (JV) mobile network sharing deal that is designed to save them millions of euros in rollout and infrastructure improvement costs. The official announcement ends speculation on a possible JV deal which began to circulate last week. As reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate on 4th July, UK-based Vodafone Group and Hutchison Whampoa of Hong Kong were said to be in advanced talks to merge their respective network infrastructure in Ireland. The pair discussed the setting up of a joint venture operation that would own the infrastructure itself, leaving each entity free to maintain its own spectrum and run an independently branded retail operation.
However, despite the groundbreaking mobile alliance, in which each will own an equal share, the two cellcos’ bosses have affirmed they will continue to fight ‘tooth and nail’ for consumers. Under the JV plan, Vodafone and 3 Ireland hope to be able to roll out new technology at a faster pace than would be possible on their own. The JV will assume responsibility for site infrastructure at more than 2,000 sites across the Republic, as well as taking over the construction of new cell sites. Further, the agreement will see duplicate mobile towers shut down, while each company will also gain access to each other’s sites. Given that Vodafone has around 2,200 sites in Ireland and Hutch’s unit around 1,200, the plan suggests that some 1,400 mobile towers will go under the plan. The new venture business will be up and running by the autumn and will be located in Dublin.