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Orange and T-Mobile finally complete network love-in

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

Customers of Orange and T-Mobile are now using one network, with handsets switching seamlessly to the nearest cell tower, though the company still refuses to say exactly where those cell towers are.

Orange and T-Mobile customers have been roaming between the two networks since 2010, but only when a signal from the home network was entirely absent. Now a handset will simply pick up the strongest signal across the conjoined infrastructure, though the layout of that infrastructure remains secret as EE continues fighting through European courts to keep it that way.

EE won't even explain why it's so keen to keep its cell towers secret. The other network operators all share their base station data, submitting the locations, frequencies and transmission power to the Ofcom-run Sitefinder database without suffering additional theft or terrorist attack. Sitefinder was recommended by the Stewart Report in 2000, but the industry forestalled legislation by offering to comply voluntarily, allowing EE to withdraw its support later.

But regardless of where the EE base stations are, they will now work for both Orange and T-Mobile customers equally, increasing coverage and allowing EE to clear its 1800MHz spectrum ready for when/if the browbeaten Ofcom awards it a UK monopoly on 4G LTE (responses to the latest consultation on that subject are expected later this week). ®

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