Vodafone/O2 network sharing goes live

Having only signed the agreement in March 2009, Vodafone and O2 UK have announced that network sharing is now fully operational with over 100 sites live or under construction. The two operators expect the sharing agreement to save them ‘hundreds of millions of pounds' over the next 10 years, and to greatly assist with the rollout of future networks.

According to an internal review, O2's CTO, Derek McManus, has described the network sharing deal as part of plans to make the operator 50 per cent more efficient, with a 50 per cent reduction in costs and a 50 per cent reduction in the time it would take to roll out the network. A set of targets that some might view as exceptionally challenging.

As part of this efficiency drive, Cornerstone, the company jointly formed by the two operators to undertake the management of the networking sharing deal, is now said to be preparing a tender to be issued early next year for the maintenance of the network sites. Vodafone's sites are currently managed by Mono and Tyco, while O2's are managed by Clark Telecom and Cellular Systems Limited.

However, an O2 spokeswoman down-played the idea, claiming that it was far too early to speculate on a new tender at this stage. "Now that the Cornerstone team is in place, we are working to review our processes and procedures to ensure we are operating efficiently; and we are continually evaluating our suppliers."

Analysts expect the agreement struck between Vodafone and O2 UK could see several thousand base station sites closed down in the UK over the coming years.

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