In a deal valued at several hundred million pounds, T-Mobile UK and 3UK have agreed a five-year deal with BT to provide upgraded backhaul from 7,500 base stations on their consolidated 3G infrastructure. This new agreement scraps the existing five-year contracts that both operators had with BT.
The deal, which was signed by Mobile Broadband Network - the JV set up by T-Mobile and 3UK to manage and coordinate the network sharing agreement, will run on BT's next generation Ethernet service that is currently being deployed nationwide in the UK. The migration of the common backhaul network to Ethernet technology will follow BT's roll-out programme. In the shorter term, BT will continue to upgrade the legacy leased line connections.
Emin Gurdenli, technology director at T-Mobile UK, said: "This agreement with BT will make sure backhaul is not a constraint now or in the future at a time when T-Mobile is experiencing strong growth in mobile broadband and other mobile data services."
Backhaul, a somewhat ignored, but increasingly vital element, is coming under increasing stress as mobile operators push subscribers to use ever cheaper 3G data services.
For BT, this agreement now means they provide the backhaul requirements for four of the five mobile players in the UK market - an important growth area given that this leading fixed-line operator is being pressurised by new entrants.
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