9/3/2010 9:55:00 AM
Orange hooks up with MBNL
Orange has officially joined 3 and T-Mobile’s network share deal, Mobile Broadband Network Ltd (MBNL).
The move, which will see Orange integrated into the joint venture over the next three years, is expected to be announced in the coming days. MBNL will now be a 50/50 joint venture between 3 and Everything Everywhere.
One source told Mobile: ‘The final stages have been brokered and the Orange network will be included in MBNL.’
The agreement will allow customers to benefit from 15,000 shared 3G masts by 2013, with coverage of over 99%. This will equate to about 85% indoor coverage, compared with 80% previously. By October this year, MBNL will consist of 12,500 sites.
Industry sources suggested that Orange would decommission some masts and bring in approximately 3,000 sites to MBNL. None will be taken out of the joint network but extra coverage will be added where there is demand.
Another source said: ‘They will bring some masts but the main thing they will be doing is decommissioning their own 3G sites.’
3 confirmed an agreement had been signed to combine the three operators’ access networks.
An Everything Everywhere spokesman said: ‘We can confirm that we’ve extended this deal. This was part of the regulations of the joint venture. It means that 3 customers will not have access to Orange’s 3G network initially.’
He would not confirm the number of Orange masts but added that Orange sites ‘will be added to the network that T-Mobile shares with 3’ in due course.
In May, Orange CEO Tom Alexander said the operator would join T-Mobile and 3’s network deal, adding that sharing the network would make huge savings both in a financial and environmental sense.
MBNL is a 50/50 joint venture company, formed in December 2007, which was previously owned by 3 UK and T-Mobile. It is the world’s largest known active 3G network consolidation agreement.