Telecoms rivals Vodafone and O2 have announced that they have agreed to share new 5G enabled equipment, such as radio antennas, on joint network sites across the UK.
The agreement is designed to allow more brits to get 5G sooner, helping to build a competitive digital economy and encouraging inew services which take advantage of the enhanced speed.
The agreement will see Cornerstone, the 50:50 joint venture company that owns and manages the parties’ passive tower infrastructure, take an additional role in the deployment of both networks and look to capture further operational efficiencies.
In addition, Vodafone and O2 will now proceed to explore potential monetisation options for Cornerstone.
Vodafone and O2 have agreed to greater 5G network autonomy on approximately 2,700 sites in 23 of the UK’s larger cities, representing just over 16 per cent of combined mast sites.
This is in addition to London – previously announced in 2018 – bringing the total number of autonomous sites to 25 per cent, giving both parties more flexibility to deploy future network technologies.
At these sites, each party will install their own radio equipment, fibre ‘backhaul’ connection and power supply, whilst continuing to limit the environmental impact by sharing the physical elements such as the mast.
Vodafone’s UK CEO Nick Jeffery said the move was designed with customers and business in mind.
“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,” he said.
2We 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.”
Telefónica’s UK CEO Mark Evans, which operates as O2, added: “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.”