Telefonica Vodafone Network Sharing Joint-Venture Given Approval

Regulatory approval has been given to the Telefonica Vodafone joint-venture that will see the two operators pool the basic parts of their network infrastructure.

Ofcom and the Office of Fair Trading have now given their blessing for the initiative, which will create a national grid of more than 18,500 sites.

The partners say that the scheme will offer indoor 2G and 3G coverage to 98 percent of the UK population and will lay the foundation for two competing 4G services. Vodafone recently agreed a similar partnership in Ireland with Three.

Telefonica Vodafone joint venture

Ownership of the new joint-venture company will be shared equally. It will be created through the consolidation of infrastructure such as masts and each operator will take control of one half of the country’s infrastructure.

Telefonica, parent company of O2, and Vodafone will retain complete control over their wireless spectrum, intelligent core networks and customer data, and will continue to compete with one another.

Both companies will also be responsible for securing enough bandwidth in the upcoming auction of 4G spectrum, but the network sharing agreement will deliver nationwide services that meet the regulatory requirement of covering 98 percent of the UK population up to two years before the Ofcom deadline of 2017.

“This partnership is about working smarter as an industry, so that we can focus on what really matters to our customers – delivering a superfast network up to two years faster than Ofcom envisages and to as many people as possible,” said Ronan Dunne, CEO Telefonica UK. “One physical grid, running independent networks, will mean broader coverage and, crucially, investment in innovation and better competition for the customer.  We look forward to Ofcom’s spectrum auction and the release of 800 spectrum.”

“This is excellent news for British consumers, businesses and the wider economy: we are promising indoor coverage for 98 percent of the UK population across all technologies within three years,” added Guy Laurence, CEO of Vodafone UK. “We will bring the best mobile coverage that this country has ever enjoyed to more people than ever before. Our existing customers will benefit on the devices that they have today and we will lay the foundations for the real 4G network they will want tomorrow.”

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Steve McCaskill

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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