EE wants to keep network sharing deal with Three


Doubts have been raised about mast agreement in face of Three’s acquisition of O2 but EE CEO Olaf Swantee praised partnership

EE would look to maintain it’s network sharing agreement with Three in the face of the proposed consolidation in the market, according to CEO Olaf Swantee.

Speaking to Mobile News yesterday at a joint event with BT, set to buy EE in a £12.5 billion deal, Swantee praised the partnership under Mobile Broadband Network Limited deal, which was formed in 2010 with T-Mobile and believed to be worth around £1 billion.

MBNL currently runs around 14,000 masts, mainly on 3G, but is set to boost this to more than 17,000 by 2017.

“I can’t comment on O2’s partnership with Vodafone but our partnership with Three is very good,” he explained. “We have a solid working network relationship. It is one of the most advanced in Europe and is a working model. We are very committed to it.

“We would happily continue with the partnership. It has evolved over time to be more 3G than anything else. We are pleased with this network sharing and would very much like it to continue.”

His view echoes comments made by Three CEO Dave Dyson in February, when he told Mobile News the operator had “no plans” to end the network sharing deal, despite its £10.25 billion agreement to buy O2 from Telefonica.

O2 also has its own network sharing deal with Vodafone, known as Cornerstone which has been in place since 2012. Currently, it has around 18,000 sites.

Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao challenged Three to cut ties with EE back in February.

Colao said the two deals aren’t “compatible” in the face of the proposed consolidation in the market, but it may be an issue resolved by the regulators.


  1. The two network sharing’s cornerstone and mbnl are not the same things
    Mbnl is a true RAN share where a three bts and ee bts occupy /share the same site building , power, antenna and transmission, cornerstone is where the physical masts are shared not RAN and the two share a split of ownership . Not easy to split the merged O2 and Three from either but as the easily split ones would be the site not owned by three one can see why both could be mixed.
    However the core networks are a different matter.
    Vodafone would presumeaby like to keep cornerstone as I would expect any O2 owned site to be left by O2 would fall to Vodafone to pick up the op ex. The same goes for EE.
    I wonder if EE are now regretting reducing the site portfolio to keep DT happy and reduce op ex?
    Looks a risky model now RAN sharing!

  2. It may have more to do with the way MBNL actually run the ran (radio access network) that’s shared.
    No operator runs the o&m function that’s outsourced and for ee and three that’s one referenced object ‘MBNL’ they manage the ee and three networks but why would BT need the complication and why would three need such overlapping coverage?
    Shared backhual between ee and three reduces the bandwidth either can use 4g is not part of the agreement? But still uses sites and transmission from both.
    O2 4g is provided by a different vendor? Three and ee use the same vendor for 3G, threes 2g is a mvno type on t mobile old legacy network.
    I see three looking to reduce op ex and close sites which one cost more O2 or mbnl ?
    Ofcom needs to review its requirement for ee to honor the 30 year ran share… Who needs more cost thats passed on to us as users?

  3. Well if that’s Colao’s attitude then maybe Three will be better off cutting ties with Vodafone & starting with EE