Vodafone and O2 finalise 5G network sharing agreement
Written by: Sam Fenwick | Published:

Vodafone and O2 have agreed to share 5G active equipment on joint network sites across the UK.

This is expected to speed up their rollout of 5G services to their customer base, reduce the impact of their operations on the environment and lower rollout costs (compared with a scenario in which both operators deploy fully separate networks).

They have also agreed to “greater 5G network autonomy” on roughly 2,700 sites in 23 of the UK’s larger cities – equivalent to just over 16 per cent of their combined mast sites. This is addition to that announced for London, announced in 2019, and will bring the total proportion of autonomous sites to 25 per cent. At these sites, both companies will have their own radio equipment, fibre backhaul and power supply, but will still share physical elements such as the mast.

As part of the agreement, Cornerstone (their 50:50 joint venture company that owns their passive tower infrastructure), will take an additional role in the deployment of both networks and seek to generate further operational efficiencies. Vodafone and O2 will start to explore potential monetisation operations for Cornerstone.

Nick Jeffery, CEO, Vodafone UK, said: “We’re driving our 5G roll-out forward with this agreement, and taking our customers, our business and the whole of the UK with us. Greater autonomy in major cities will allow us to accelerate deployment, and together with active network sharing, ensures that our customers will get super-fast 5G in even more places more quickly, using fewer masts. We can boost capacity where our customers need it most so they can take full advantage of our new unlimited plans. And it demonstrates our commitment to further invest in our multi-billion pound network in the years to come, helping the UK become a digital pioneer.”

Mark Evans, CEO, Telefónica UK, said: “Today is an important step in demonstrating our commitment to invest for the future, with mobile connectivity one of the UK’s most powerful opportunities to strengthen the economy and improve the lives of British people. This agreement will enable us to roll-out 5G faster and more efficiently, benefiting customers while delivering value for our business. It also importantly allows us to utilise the spectrum we acquired in the last auction very effectively.”

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