Two of Britain’s biggest mobile phone operators have announced that they are to share their 3G mast network.
Mobile phone giants T-Mobile and 3 are uniting their networks to provide customers with national 3G coverage by the year 2009 as well as making estimated savings of around £2 billion over the next ten years and reducing the number of mobile phone masts across the UK by 5,000.
T-Mobile UK Chief Executive Jim Hyde comments: “3G is a transforming technology, but this will be the first time that a 3G access network in this country is able to achieve both the reach and the capacity to meet the needs of the future. From 2008, customers can expect to have access to high-speed 3G services in a greater number of locations than we can currently serve over our existing infrastructure. By collaborating with 3 UK, we can achieve this quicker and with greater economy."
While this move is the first of its kind, both firms stress that it is not a merger despite the masts and 3G access networks being combined, and that each company’s core network and T-Mobile’s 2G network will not be shared. Both parties will retain responsibility for the delivery of services to their respective customers.
Chief Executive of 3 UK, Kevin Russell, reiterated Mr Hyde's comments: “I am delighted that 3 is teaming-up with T-Mobile to deliver this major step forward for the UK mobile market. It is exciting to consider that within a short period of time wherever you can get 2G mobile coverage today you will be able to access the internet at broadband speeds from a 3G mobile device."
The shared network, due to be completed in just over two years, with the contract due to run until the end of 2031, will provide blanket UK population coverage capable of supporting high-speed 3G mobile broadband services - a commitment well beyond the 3G licence obligation of 80 per cent population coverage that, according to the phone companies, "both T-Mobile and 3 UK already comfortably exceed."
3 currently has almost three million active customers in the UK, and controls more than 90 per cent population coverage for third generation services while
T-Mobile (UK) claims to have almost one million “data access” customers, a figure that it hopes to double by the end of 2008.
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