Deutsche Telekom in LTE network sharing talks with rivals

Initial discussions have already taken place between the three leading German operators over the possibility of sharing LTE infrastructure. The head of Deutsche Telekom's German operations said that he expected the three largest operators to start cooperating on LTE network deployments by the end of this year.

This rapid move to share LTE networks, and save huge Capex outlay, has involved talks between T-Mobile, Vodafone, O2 and, notably, the German Federal Network Agency and competition authority.

However, the report carried by Financial Times Deutschland hinted that this sudden decision to share LTE networks might only apply to rural areas, and not the more lucrative city and densely populated urban communities.

All three operators have already launched small-scale LTE networks on a commercial or semi-commercial basis, and have published plans to provide coverage for the major German cities in the months ahead.

While infrastructure sharing already exists in Europe, albeit not widespread, the CTO of Australian operator Telstra, Hugh Bradlow, has recently dismissed network sharing as a race to the bottom.

He warned that adopting this approach would destroy network-based differentiation. "What happens with network sharing is that nobody is incentivised to invest in the networks but the marketing departments promise as much bandwidth as possible," said Bradlow.

Telstra remains a firm advocate of competition based on the performance of the network and claims that its NextG 3G network is the "world's fastest national mobile broadband network." Bradlow added that iPhone users on NextG never experience the network reverting to EDGE, so robust is the 3G service.

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