Telefónica UK and Vodafone UK have been given approval by the Office of Fair Trading and Ofcom to strengthen their existing network collaboration. The two companies, which already work together on a UK mast-sharing project known as Cornerstone, now plan to combine the basic parts of their network infrastructure in a new company called CTI Ltd. This will own and manage the basic UK network infrastructure for both operators, although Vodafone and Telefónica (O2) will each continue to run their own independent networks.
Each operator will be responsible for the design, management and maintenance of radio equipment and transmission on one half of the country. Telefonica will manage the shared network system in the east of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, while Vodafone will take care of the west of England and Wales. The intelligent core network, wireless spectrum and customer data will remain separate for each operator.
The scheme is expected to improve 2G and 3G coverage for O2 and Vodafone customers while also offering a potentially faster roll-out for 4G services in the next few years.
Ronan Dunne, CEO of Telefónica UK, said “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. 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.”
Guy Laurence, CEO of Vodafone UK, said “This is excellent news for British consumers, businesses and the wider economy: we are promising indoor coverage for 98% of the UK population across all technologies within three years. 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.”