Vodafone UK and France Telecom’s Orange UK have announced that they have reached a draft agreement to share their 2G and 3G wireless networks. Under the terms of the non-binding proposal the two companies will manage their own traffic and levels of service independently, while continuing to compete in the mobile wholesale and retail markets. The structure and terms of any final agreement are expected to be set in the coming months, they said. The cellcos said their intention is to combine their two radio access networks over a number of years. For the 2G networks, the draft deal ‘commits to exploring opportunities as technical solutions become available.’ Nick Read, CEO of Vodafone UK, said the plan ‘will enable the two companies to remain vigorously competitive against each other and the market, while realising the proven benefits of network sharing.’ These will include faster roll out of high speed mobile services and the earlier introduction of new products, he added. The plan is expected to generate long-term synergies, including a reduction in numbers of masts, leading to lower capital and operating expenditures. The companies will however retain sole control over their networks, enabling each operator to continue offering differentiated products, services and prices within the UK market.
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