European carriers must merge their network infrastructure if they hope to simultaneously cut costs and meet growing network speed and quality demands, 3 UK has said.
The company's network sharing deal with Deutsche Telecom's T-Mobile has become a de-facto case study for European operators – particularly in the UK, 3 CTO Graham Baxter told Bloomberg.
Vodafone and Telefonica's O2 may soon extend their network-sharing arrangements to match the 3/T-Mobile partnership, Baxter said.
He believes the UK may soon end up with only two mobile network infrastructures after a wave of consolidations and sharing arrangements.
Telefonica and Vodafone last year agreed to share some wireless network components, for example transmission masts, in countries including the UK.
The pair are now in talks regarding merging some network sites, and plan to jointly build 650 sites this year.
When asked about rumours Vodafone was considering buying out 3 UK from parent Hutchison, Baxter said a merger with Vodafone has never been on the agenda for 3 shareholders.
He did say that the imminent merger between T-Mobile and Orange doesn't rule out an amalgamation with Vodafone, although it would make it more difficult to execute.
Hutchison and Vodafone also aren't averse to making deals, having last year combined their assets in Australia.