Vodafone, Orange combine mobile mast sites to cut costs

Vodafone and rival Orange, owned by France Telecom , are to share mobile mast sites in a deal designed to cut costs and improve coverage across Britain, a Reuters report said.

The Reuters report said the two groups revealed plans to work more closely on their networks just over a year ago and gave an update on the deal.

The first stage will involve Orange UK and Vodafone UK sharing existing mast sites for their older 2G network and the 3G network, with one site housing the equipment of both companies where previously two would have been used, the report said.

Vodafone, the world's largest mobile phone company by revenue, said the initiative could lead to a 15% reduction in the number of mast sites in the first two years, or 3,000 sites in total, the report said.

The two companies will continue to maintain separate networks, will retain full responsibility for the quality of service they offer, and will remain competitors in the UK mobile markets, the report added.

T-Mobile UK and 3 UK announced a deal to combine their 3G access networks in December, the report further said.