Orange is outsourcing its mobile and fixed network operations in Spain, and mobile network in the UK to Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN).
The announcement comes days after it was reported that Vodafone and O2 were to share network resources in the UK, and that the arrangement would probably be expanded to other countries where O2's parent company, Telefonica, and Vodafone had operations - Spain, Germany, Ireland and Czech Republic.
This left Orange in the UK in somewhat of an awkward situation.
It had agreed a network sharing deal with Vodafone, that doesn't appear to have amounted to much, although apparently that is still in place. It's hard to see how that would work, given the situation with O2 as well as the fact that the two use different spectrum.
The other two operators in the UK, 3 and T-Mobile set up a joint company last year, MBNL to coordinate their network resource sharing.
Ostensibly, it has taken the other sensible (and arguably more sensible) route open to it in the interests of getting operational costs down without sacrificing quality - outsourcing network operations. Time will tell how well the outsourcing deal is executed. However outsourcing networking operations and network sharing partnerships aren't mutually exclusive (see Vodafone UK, Ericsson story below).
In the UK at least, it is understood that Orange would like join T-Mobile and 3's network sharing venture. The outsourcing deal shouldn't provide a barrier to that move.
Orange Spain has awarded NSN a five-year services contract to manage Orange's fixed and mobile multivendor networks that cater to more than 11.3 million mobile customers and 1.2 million ADSL customers across Spain.
NSN will implement an end-to-end, managed service for OrangeÂ´s networks, with the aim of increasing efficiency and reliability of the operator's mobile and fixed network.
"In an increasingly competitive market, balancing priorities is an ongoing challenge for our customers. They are under continuous pressure to do more for less, create new revenue opportunities, and stay ahead through technology innovation. By providing them with advanced services that address their everyday needs, we help customers focus on their attention on areas that drive their success," said JosÃ© Carlos Sampedro, Head of Customer Team, Nokia Siemens Networks.
In the UK, Nokia Siemens Networks states it will "manage, plan, expand, optimize and provide maintenance services for the Orange UK 2G/3G mobile network for the next five years". The deal is designed to deliver improved quality of service and better coverage for Orange UK's 15.9 million mobile subscribers, while driving operational efficiency.
This includes the entire range of 2G/3G network operations including network planning and optimization, spare parts management and providing turnkey network rollout services. Orange will continue to own and strategically plan its network.
NSN is also finalising arrangements for a UK sub-contractor to provide first line maintenance services. As part of the mobile network operations outsourcing, there are plans to transfer 470 staff from Orange UK with approximately 230 joining Nokia Siemens Networks and the remainder being transferred to a first line maintenance sub-contractor.
"Nokia Siemens Networks has a proven global expertise in managing large, multi-technology networks, and our partnership with the company is a win-win for all involved - Orange UK, our customers and our employees," said Pete Marsden, VP of IT & Networks for Orange, UK. "Nokia Siemens Networks will provide our transferring employees with strong career paths within global organizations recognised as telecommunications industry leaders."