Pooling base stations will save money and could reduce the environmental impact of mobile networks in Europe, say the operators
Mobile phone operators Vodafone and O2’s parent company Telefonica are to share networks in the UK and three other European countries.
The agreement to share networks is a response to the recession, and will save both firms millions of pounds. As well as the UK, the agreement covers Germany, Spain and the Irish Republic but, despite sharing networks, the operators say they will still compete against each other.
The agreement effectively reduces the number of mobile networks (as opposed to opertors) in the UK further. Vodafone already has a similar deal with Orange, in Britain and Spain. The companies will continue to process signals independently of each other.
“Telefónica and Vodafone will continue to compete strongly against each other in local markets, while giving our customers enhanced mobile coverage in more places, using fewer mast sites,” said Matthew Key, CEO of Telefónica Europe.
Under the deal , the companies will pool existing 2G and 3G masts, and will build new sites jointly, leading to a significant reduction in the environmental impact and energy demands of mobile phone infrastructure in the UK, the companies said. It should also speed the delivery of mobile broadband coverage, by allowing the companies to eliminate overlap and concentrate on fresh sites.
Vodafone cut 500 jobs last month, and has frozen the salaries of its UK staff, as part of a bid to make £1 billion savings worldwide.