Vodafone and O2 to team up on 5G rollout
Written by: Sam Fenwick | Published:

Vodafone and Telefónica UK (O2) have entered into non-binding heads of terms under which they plan to extend their network sharing partnership term and include 5G at joint radio sites.

This will enable them to deploy 5G faster, offer 5G services to more customers over a wider geographic area, and to do so at a lower cost.

The two mobile network operators (MNOs) are also looking to deploy their own separate radio equipment in a number of larger cities (approximately 2,500 sites) to boost the autonomy of their individual networks. Both Vodafone and O2 plan to upgrade their transmission networks with higher capacity optical fibre cables, to enable their customers to benefit from 5G’s new features, such as low latency, as well as provide both companies with greater economies of scale and an improved choice of infrastructure partners. The two companies are also exploring options around their future transmission operating model which could drive synergies in the investment and operation of their end-to-end networks.

They intend to devolve additional activities to CTIL, their 50:50 owned joint venture company, which owns and manages their passive tower infrastructure, to improve the efficiency of its operations and pursue opportunities to add further third party tenants to the towers. Once these arrangements have been finalised, Vodafone and O2 will explore a potential monetarisation of CTIL.

All of these initiatives are subject to the two companies agreeing detailed terms, concluding legally binding agreements and receiving all necessary regulatory approvals. Vodafone and O2 aim to conclude these steps during 2019.

Nick Jeffery, CEO, Vodafone UK, said: “We believe that these plans will generate significant benefits for our business and our customers as we move into the digital era of connected devices, appliances and systems on a mass scale. Customers will benefit from the best 5G experience available and we will deliver even faster speeds by using our spectrum holding more effectively.”

Mark Evans, CEO, Telefónica UK, said: “I’m excited by the potential of these plans to meet the future needs of our customers while delivering value for our business. In addition, these plans would allow us to utilise the spectrum we acquired in the last auction very effectively.”

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