Vodafone and Orange are close to signing a deal that will see the two companies share the costs of technology, engineering and maintenance at their network base stations in the UK, reports The Guardian.
The newspaper speculates that the move could save Vodafone Â£1bn a year.
Orange and Vodafone already share the costs of running some aspects of their base stations, but the latest agreement goes much further and is expected to include integrating their 3G access networks and possibly a degree of collaboration in managing their international network coverage.
In September 2008, Mobile Broadband Network Ltd. (MBNL), the network collaboration joint-venture between T-Mobile UK and 3 UK, started the joint build out of what they claim is the country's most extensive 3G network. It is to provide near complete population coverage by the end of 2009.
Through MBNL, T-Mobile UK and 3UK expect to save Â£2 billion (USD4 billion) over ten years, by decommissioning over 5,000 duplicate base stations and sharing the remainder, thereby reducing site management and energy costs.