Feeds

Vodafone and O2 to merge mobile networks

And then there were two

Top three mobile application threats

O2 and Vodafone will pool their mobile phone masts and antennas to slash costs and reduce the number of physical networks in Blighty to two.

The pair will compete as separate operators, using different radio frequencies, but by 2015 those signals will be received by jointly-owned antennas and backhauled over shared cables. The management of their shared grid will be divided vertically through England, leaving O2 with Scotland and Vodafone with Wales.

The move follows Everything Everywhere (formed by Orange and T-Mobile) and Three's efforts to pool their network tech in the UK.

Vodafone and Telefonica - the latter of which operates under the O2 brand - already share power supplies and air conditioning in many sites, which are run by the Cornerstone organisation, but they'll have to set up a new jointly-owned body to hold the combined network, which should total 18,500 sites.

That number was almost certainly selected to top EE & Three's 18,000 shared sites, but Vodafone and O2 are pooling both 2G and 3G infrastructure while the EE & Three deal only includes their 3G networks (Three having decided against running a 2G network at all).

EE and Three haven't said if their deal will extend into 4G technologies; they're holding on that decision until after the 4G spectrum auction, but Vodafone and Telefonica have made it clear that they foresee their combined network extending well into the fourth generation of mobile broadband.

Telefonica and Vodafone hold 2G spectrum at 900MHz, which has decent building penetration but is full of 2G customers. They also both have small holdings at 1800MHz and run their 3G networks at 2.1GHz like the rest of the world (although O2 has switched some of its 900MHz space to 3G around London and other areas).

Operating in the same bands makes sharing infrastructure practical, but it would be a good deal harder for either of them to share with EE, whose 2G network is all at 1800MHz.

How that maps onto the 4G networks we won’t know, but Vodafonica's commitment to deploy two 4G networks on the same infrastructure will impact the spectrum strategy of both companies: a combined network operator won't want to buy the chunk of 1800MHz that EE is required to get shot of, for example. So while the two networks will retain separate spectrum holdings, the pooling of infrastructure will have an impact on the market.

In the more immediate future there will be some disruption to customers as cell sites are switched off, even if the slack is swiftly taken up by other phone masts.

Customers hate change and while this will lead to a cheaper and better network in three years, for O2 and Vodafone customers, there will be a period of transition very similar to that already experienced by customers of all the other UK networks. ®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Virgin Media so, so SORRY for turning spam fire-hose on its punters
Hundreds of emails flood inboxes thanks to gaffe
A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally
Breakfast in London, lunch in NYC, and your clothes in Peru
AT&T threatens to pull out of FCC wireless auctions over purchase limits
Company wants ability to buy more spectrum space in auction
Turnbull leaves Australia's broadband blackspots in the dark
New Statement of Expectations to NBN Co offers get-out clauses for blackspot builds
Facebook claims 100 MEEELLION active users in India
Who needs China when you've got the next billion in your sights?
Facebook splats in-app chat, whacks brats into crack yakety-yak app
Jibber-jabbering addicts turfed out just as Zuck warned
Google looks to LTE and Wi-Fi to help it lube YouTube tubes
Bandwidth hogger needs tube embiggenment if it's to succeed
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.