UK-based Vodafone Group and Hutchison Whampoa of Hong Kong are said to be in advanced talks to merge their respective network infrastructure in Ireland. According to an unconfirmed report in The Financial Times, the pair are discussing the setting up of a joint venture operation that would own the infrastructure itself, leaving each entity free to maintain its own spectrum and run an independently branded retail operation. It is understood that the deal, which would help the pair to reduce the cost of rolling out advanced ultra-high speed networks, would likely mirror a similar arrangement between Vodafone and Telefonica’s O2 in the UK last month, and a mobile network sharing partnership agreement between Irish former monopoly Eircom and O2, signed last year. Hutchison Whampoa is controlled by the billionaire Li Ka-shing and owns 3G operator 3 Ireland. Earlier this year it submitted two unsuccessful bids for control of Eircom.
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