Vodafone/O2 network sharing to impact jobs and antenna sites

As Vodafone and O2 push forward with the plan to share their cellular networks, details are emerging of how this move will likely impact jobs and the current infrastructure setup.

The companies have confirmed 80 staff would move over to Cornerstone--the jointly-owned firm that will eventually run the shared network, in the first phase, and that any redundancies would be a last resort. However, O2's 220-strong technology team that worked on the network share agreement, of which around 40 per cent are contractors, have already been told many will not have their contracts renewed.

With regard to the network, an initial assessment to understand which could be decommissioned will start with 450 sites belonging to Vodafone and 450 to O2. According to Derek McManus, CTO of O2, the objective of this review, which will also examine the usefulness of the 12,000 masts owned by each operator, will be to make each 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 shared network.

Both firms have stressed that the network sharing deal is about reducing their property and operating expenses, not people costs. Interestingly, both networks said they would be employing staff in the short-term to carry out the ambitious plans to share sites.

The mobile industry is still awaiting more detail on how this agreement will work between these two, highly competitive global operators. Some industry observers have profiled the Vodafone/Telefónica deal as being less ambitious than the T-Mobile/3 link-up, and less complicated than Vodafone/Orange. This latter agreement seems to have been quietly forgotten in the rush to get Cornerstone up and running.

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