O2 and Vodafone open new Cornerstone discussions

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Sources claim both operators are demanding more independence under new terms of the mast sharing agreement

Vodafone and O2 have begun renegotiating their billion-pound mast sharing deal to speed up the expansion of their networks, according to a report from the Telegraph. 

The mast sharing agreement between the two, officially known as ‘Cornerstone, stretches back to November 2012. Both would work together to maintain a national grid of masts whilst remaining independent of each other. O2 agreed to maintain and build new masts in the East of England, whilst Vodafone claimed responsibility for the West.

Cornerstone’s main purpose was to reduce maintenance costs stretching into the hundreds of millions of pounds. Both operators claimed they would share around 18,500 masts by the end of 2015.

Both operators are working towards new term for independence, according to the Telegraph. The publication claimed Vodafone’s key target is to gain more autonomy major cities to improve capacity and coverage, with a source saying Vodafone was “trying to get certain changes in the joint venture so it can invest its own money and run its own show where it thinks it makes a difference.”

These discussions follow the failed £10.3 billion merger between O2 and Three. Telefonica is currently working towards an initial public offering on the stock market, with the sources adding more independence would help O2 and Telefonica attract potential investors.

An O2 spokesperson said: “As a customer-led business, we’re committed to delivering the best possible network experience for our customers. The Cornerstone partnership facilitates quicker coverage roll-out and remains a more economically and environmentally responsible way of delivering coverage benefits to our growing base of customers.”

Vodafone declined to comment.

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