Vodafone Ireland and Three Ireland are the latest operators to sign a infrastructure sharing deal, sharing equipment across around 2,000 sites.
The 50/50 joint venture will manage a paid rollout of shared network sites and infrastructure. The joint venture will be responsible for maintenance, operational service and associated equipment. The operators said they will benefit from cost savings by jointly buying equipment, increasing the number of sites connected to a fibre backhaul network and expanding coverage for customers. However, both companies will run core network and service platforms separately, as well as manage radio equipment and spectrum.
The companies will work to decommission a number of site and the joint venture is expected to be fully operational by the autumn. An MD will be appointed and around 80 staff will transfer from the two operators to the new company.
Vodafone Ireland CEO Jeroen Hoencamp said: 'Securing future investment for technologies in a competitive market is critical to maintaining a sustainable business. We believe this partnership will place both companies in a stronger position to commit to future investment in our network, and the products and services we provide to customers.
'This agreement, in which infrastructure is shared between both parties, means we can concentrate investment on the intelligent part of the network that will ultimately deliver a better experience for Vodafone customers. At a retail level, we will continue to compete with each other and with other operators as aggressively as before as part of our commitment to deliver great value and innovative services to consumers and businesses across the country.'
Three Ireland CEO Robert Finnegan said: 'Around the world, operators are adopting a network sharing and consolidation strategy that delivers cost efficiencies and rapid network expansion with the rollout of new technologies such as LTE, whilst still competing fiercely on customer service and acquisition. Today’s announcement is significant for Irish consumers – jointly we’re creating the largest physical network in Ireland with the best network quality and service. As a result of this agreement we expect to be able to deliver the latest technologies to our customers faster than ever before. This new joint venture combines the best of both networks and will be the smart choice for the savvy mobile customer.'
Editor: Graeme Neill