UK mobile operators O2 and Vodafone are reportedly renegotiating their long-standing deal to share mobile masts in a bid to speed up the rollout of their respective networks and keep pace with the aggressive expansion plans of BT-backed EE. According to the Daily Telegraph the joint venture (JV, see below) has become a source of tension between the two companies, with Vodafone in particular understood to be keen for more autonomy in major cities to allow it to improve its capacity and coverage faster. O2’s ‘relatively sluggish maintenance performance’ has also caused friction, the report adds. Under the original contract, the pair retained autonomy in London only, which Vodafone has sought to capitalise on with investment in masts and heavy local marketing.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the two operators have worked together via a network sharing deal since 2009 and the initial pact was expanded into a more comprehensive 50/50 JV in October 2012, when Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure Limited, the company charged with managing the duo’s shared network infrastructure, became fully operational. At that date, O2 assumed responsibility for managing and maintaining radio equipment in the East (including Northern Ireland and most of Scotland), while Vodafone started to look after the West (including Wales).