Vodafone and Three announce network share deal in Ireland


Operators to share network and infrastructure across 2,000 sites in the country, mirroring the move made by O2 and Vodafone in the UK last month

Vodafone Ireland and Three Ireland have announced a partnership creating a 50/50 joint venture company to share their physical network and site infrastructure across around 2,000 sites.

It follows the announcement made by O2 and Vodafone in the UK last month, with the two operators joining forces to share 18,500 network masts, which will boost 2G and 3G coverage to 98 per cent by 2015, and speed up the deployment of 4G services.

The partnership is the first of its kind in Ireland whereby the joint venture company will manage the rapid roll-out of a consolidated portfolio of shared network sites and infrastructure.

Both operators will be able to purchase network infrastructure together to reduce costs, increasing the number of sites connected to a fibre backhaul network and the opportunity to expand mobile network coverage for customers.

Duplicate sites will be decommissioned, and both companies will have access to each other’s sites. They will continue to remain independantly responsible for what technology and spectrum is deployed on a site-by-site basis and what standard of service customers’ experience.

They will retain the ability to invest in dedicated sites and choose the pace and degree of new technology deployment according to the level of service each company plans to deliver.

Both will continue to run certain elements of the network separately, including their core network capabilities and service platforms, as well as manage their own radio equipment and spectrum independantly.

The joint venture will also be responsible for maintenance, ongoing operational service and associated equipment.

The new company is expected to be fully operational from the autumn and will be headquartered in Dublin. A managing director will be appointed and the new company will have its own management board.

Around 80 employees, including those that currently work in the radio and transmission teams and the network operations centre, will transfer from the operators to the new joint venture company after a consultation period.

Vodafone Ireland CEO Jeroen Howncamp said: “Securing future investment for technologies in a competitive market is critical to maintaining a sustainable business. We believe this partnership will place both companies in a stronger position to commit to future investment in our network, and the products and services we provide to customers.

“This agreement, in which infrastructure is shared between both parties, means we can concentrate investment on the intelligent part of the network that will ultimately deliver a better experience for Vodafone customers.

“At a retail level, we will continue to compete with each other and with other operators as aggressively as before as part of our commitment to deliver great value and innovative services to consumers and businesses across the country.

Three Ireland CEO Robert Finnegan said: “Around the world, operators are adopting a network sharing and consolidation strategy that delivers cost efficiencies and rapid network expansion with the roll-out of new technologies such as LTE, whilst still competing fiercely on customer service and acquisition.

“Today’s announcement is significant for Irish consumers – jointly we’re creating the largest physical network in Ireland with the best network quality and service. As a result of this agreement we expect to be able to deliver the latest technologies to our customers faster than ever before.

“This new joint venture combines the best of both networks and will be the smart choice for the savvy mobile customer.”