3 and T-Mobile announce site provider
3G networks finally start to merge
Mobile Broadband Network Limited, the company set up to manage the UK's combined 3G network for operators 3 and T-Mobile, has announced that Arqiva will be providing 5,100 cell sites to be used by both networks.
More than year after signing a deal to set up a shared network, Arqiva has signed a deal to provide the sites, a process that should involve shutting down 5,000 sites as well as saving £2bn over the next 10 years.
Arqiva is an unsurprising choice - the company was created out of the UK bit of Crown Castle and runs 24,000 broadcast sites around the UK, many of which are let to mobile phone companies. Several companies often share the same physical location, if not local equipment.
Site sharing is old news, and while Vodafone and O2 are very pleased with their recently-announced shared-air-conditioning deal, 3 and T-Mobile are going a great deal further by actually sharing the same network infrastructure, providing greater savings at the cost of greater risk.
The deal between Vodafone and O2 will save money, and can be rolled out one site at a time with very little risk, but the level of integration (and thus architected separation) between the 3 and T-Mobile networks makes the deployment much more risky - but with a corresponding return if all goes well.
The plan is to have the networks integrated by next year, which should see 3 and T-Mobile offering identical 3G coverage better than that offered by each company individually, and which includes considerable expansion. We'll have to see if enlarged coverage takes a back seat to cost saving, however. ®
I had perfect service from 3 in my area of London until they started to merge with T-mobile. 6 months of rage followed. They actually gave everyone in this bit of west London £50 credit for the cock-up. But in the end it kept being so unreliable I had to walk away even though they offered to halve the bill. Went with Vodafone, and even though the software says I have 'very poor' signal, it's faster than 3 and no interruptions so far.
Goodbye gouging T-Mobile
12 month web'n'waddle contract just expired - but why was the new bill 200% up? £28.38 a month for dialup speeds and line dropping every minute was taking the piss. (It did 256k at one time, but not for many months, and by then I'd given away the dongle.)
Why was I leaving sir? QOS. Let me just check what we can do for you sir - I see your reception is good - but not for 3G. (Finally ... the truth!). So you'd like to terminate sir, that'll be 30 days notice. I'll cancel now, but I see you've upped my bill, so you'll be charging me 30 days at which rate? Oh you are out of contract now sir so that'll be the new rate. And how do you want to settle? Your final bill sir will be despatched mid May and cover 6 days - if it's over £20 you'll be automatically refunded, if it's less than that you will need to call us for a refund. (Seriously - I have to decide between wasting my time and wasting my money on them). Anything else we can do for you sir? Yes - make a note that I've resolved never to do business with your company again.
Can T-Mobile seriously be expecting 3 to get them out of a hole? When the practise gets sharp, I reckon a company is shortly to fall flat.
Will they standardise products too?
Will this mean a standardisation of T-Mobile and 3 products? Today I can buy data from 3 at £1 per GB but T-Mobile costs £4 per GB and doesn't allow Skype. If the networks are identical why would I keep my T-Mobile data SIM?
Looks to me like 3 has boosted its products in terms of innovation (Skypephone, data, ...) and value for money to make up for a weaker network. If it has the same network as the T-Mobile and keeps it's current product portfolio wont it have an advantage?