Vodafone Ireland and Hutchison to share networks
Vodafone Ireland and Hutchison’s Three Ireland have announced a strategic partnership to share network infrastructure and create what is claimed to be the largest physical network in the country.
The two operators will create a 50/50 joint venture company to share their physical network and site infrastructure at approximately 2,000 sites across Ireland in an agreement similar to the one Vodafone and Telefónica UK announced last month. Similarly, it is expected to speed up the roll-out of LTE, once spectrum has been made available.
Both companies will run their core network capabilities and service platforms separately and manage their own radio equipment and spectrum independently.
This latest network sharing agreement is part of a consolidation trend created by operators which are looking to achieve savings on expensive infrastructure expansion. It is estimated that the partnership could save both companies £200 million over five years.
“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,” said Robert Finnegan, CEO of Three Ireland.
The joint venture (JV) will be responsible for maintenance, ongoing operational service and associated equipment. Vodafone said that benefits of the arrangement will include: the ability to purchase network infrastructure equipment 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.
Under the agreement, duplicate sites will be decommissioned and both companies will remain independently responsible for what technology and spectrum is deployed on a site-by-site basis and the standard of service experienced by customers.
Vodafone said that the JV is expected to be fully operational from the Autumn and will be headquartered in the Irish capital Dublin. Its MD will be appointed from an independent pool and the company will have its own management board. Approximately 80 employees are expected to transfer from Vodafone Ireland and Three Ireland after a consultation period, including radio and transmission teams, NOC workers and support workers.
Vodafone and Hutchison were reported to be on the verge of an agreement on July 4, but no official announcement had been made until now.