3/11/2009 4:39:00 PM
New network sharing deal for O2 and Vodafone sidelines Orange
O2 and Vodafone are in the final stages of a network share deal involving most sites and technology, Mobile has learned.
The agreement covers 2G, 3G as well as data and transmission sites. The ?move is part of both networks’ objectives to save infrastructure costs and make substantial improvements to their networks.
The project, codenamed ‘Cornerstone’, will displace Vodafone’s existing share deal with Orange, which involves sharing sites but not transmission.
The move has frustrated Orange; it signed a network share deal with Vodafone in February 2007 but that has stalled, and now looks dead and buried.
Orange appeared to have been blind-sided by the deal this week.
An Orange spokesman said: Orange has a network sharing agreement with Vodafone in the UK to share sites. At this time we have no plans to change that, and look forward to continuing our plans with Vodafone in the future.’
Orange group CEO Olaf Swantee said last month: ‘What one operator cannot achieve, several can through co-operation.’
Sites between Orange and Vodafone will be reviewed, as the focus shifts to the new deal between Vodafone and O2.
?A large number of existing sites will also be decommissioned under the scheme.
The Orange spokesman referred to opportunities from Ofcom’s recent Digital Britain report, adding: ‘These could see us open up additional bi-lateral or multi-lateral partnerships with other operators in the future, at both a UK and international level.
O2 and Vodafone expect to accelerate their ambitions of having high-speed mobile networks for mobile broadband and other 3G services.
O2 has been criticised for its poor 3G coverage in comparison to other operators. O2’s UK CEO Ronan Dunne told Mobile last year that O2 would use its network as a ‘key component to differentiate from the competition’, and that potential cost savings from network sharing were exaggerated.
Rivals T-Mobile and 3 already have a network sharing deal, announced in December 2007, which sees the two operators sharing HSDPA networks, and expecting combined savings of £2bn over 10 years.
Vodafone and O2 both said they ‘regularly review’ network sharing. The spokesman for Vodafone added: ‘We will provide any relevant updates as appropriate.’