Major UK Network Share Deal

(12 Mar 2009, BWCS Staff)

Rival UK mobile operators Vodafone and O2 are to pool their networks in a major shake-up of the mobile market in Britain, reports the Guardian newspaper today. The paper claims that talks between the two are at an "an advanced stage" and that an announcement is expected in the next few weeks. The Guardian also reports that Vodafone's existing partner Orange will jump ship to join forces with T-Mobile and 3, hoping to join their network sharing venture. In theory this could leave just two networks serving the UK.

Despite the cosying up, it is clear that the five companies will continue to operate services under their own brand names. However, the move could save huge amounts of network-build money with a net reduction in the number of base stations needed of around 51,000 base stations around the country.

The Guardian reports that both the Competition Commission and the Office of Fair Trading are expected to scrutinise the two deals to see if they amounted to a merger that would reduce competition. According to a spokesperson from Vodafone, quoted by the Guardian "We regularly review our plans to ensure Vodafone UK is best placed to take advantage of network sharing schemes now and in the future."

Neither operator has commented officially on the reports yet.


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