Vodafone Ireland and Three Ireland have agreed a strategic partnership to share their physical networks and site infrastructure across the Republic of Ireland.
The two companies will from a new joint-venture company, with each operator holding a 50 percent stake, in what they claim is the first of its kind in Ireland.
The deal is similar to the one struck by Vodafone UK and Telefonica UK in June, with the new company expecting to be operational by the autumn.
Both Three and Vodafone will continue to operate their own network capabilities separately and will remain independently responsible for what technology and spectrum is deployed on a site-by-site basis. They will also retain the flexibility to invest in dedicated sites and equally to choose what technology to deploy at these sites, depending on the level of customer service they wish to deliver.
“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,” said Jeroen Hoencamp, CEO of Vodafone Ireland. “At a retail level we will continue to compete aggressively against one another and with other operators, to offer value and innovative services to consumers and businesses across the country.”
“Around the world, operators are adopting a network sharing and consolidation strategy that delivers cost efficiencies and rapid network expansion with the roll-out of new technologies such as LTE, whilst still competing fiercely on customer service and acquisition,” added Robert Finnegan CEO of Three. “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.”
A managing director will be appointed, while the new Dublin-based company will have its own management board. Around 80 Three and Vodafone employees will be transferred following a consultation period.
Vodafone UK and Telefonica UK, parent company of O2, have agreed to create a national grid of 18,500 sites in the UK that will provide wider coverage of 4G for customers when it finally arrives in the country. Everything Everywhere has also completed its Smart Signal project which lets customers of Orange and T-Mobile use each other’s network, although EE has been keen to point out that this is an entirely different proposition, predicting that Telefonica and Vodafone are likely to suffer “teething pains”.
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