Vodafone UK & O2: “One Grid, Two Networks”
As I observed in one of my previous blogs: before you can get a network up and running, you need spectrum – whether new or existing. Everything Everywhere, that owns Orange and T-Mobile in the UK, has been considering using its 1800MHz spectrum for its own LTE services, a potential move which other operators in the UK consider unfair and uncompetitive. However, it was announced today that Vodafone and Telefonica O2 will share their infrastructure to operate and manage a single network grid across the country. This is expected to result in both the operators having access to a single grid of 18,500 masts. Unsurprisingly, both operators will continue to provide competitive services on different wireless spectrum. Well, this is by no means a first time for the two operators – the two companies have an existing joint partnership called Cornerstone and first announced their partnership in 2009 to share mobile network infrastructure across Europe, namely in UK, Germany, Spain and Ireland. In a way, this is aimed at meeting the challenge set by Everything Everywhere via its aggressive 4G Britain campaign. This is why we believe network consolidation and sharing is the most logical step going forward for the operators. It is very simple – regarding 4G, the biggest challenge is the cost factor; the process of building out network sites is very expensive. Building a network infrastructure that can be simply shared amongst operators, but at the same time enabling independence and competitiveness can only provide with cost savings and perhaps, a much better network. More consolidation in terms of networks between operators will take place in the future - not just in the UK, but around the world. According to our recent research, with the rate of LTE network commitments at an all-time high, the total number of LTE base station deployments will reach almost 1 million by 2014.