Vodafone and Three reveal Irish network-sharing partnership

The mobile operators' Irish operations will use the same masts in Ireland as a cost-saving measure, although they will continue to run their own radio equipment and spectrum

The Irish operations of Vodafone and Three are to share their masts as a cost-saving measure, in a deal reminiscent of Three's UK agreement with Everything Everywhere.

Vodafone Ireland and Three Ireland will set up a 50/50 joint venture to manage the shared infrastructure, which spans around 2,000 locations, the companies said on Friday. Each company will continue to run its own radio equipment and spectrum.

"This agreement, in which infrastructure is shared between both parties, means we can concentrate investment on the intelligent part of the network that will ultimately deliver a better experience for Vodafone customers," Vodafone Ireland chief executive Jeroen Hoencamp said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Three Ireland chief executive Robert Finnegan pointed out that the resulting physical network would be the largest in the country, and "as a result of this agreement we expect to be able to deliver the latest technologies to our customers faster than ever before".

The concept of network-sharing is increasingly popular, particularly with 4G rollouts requiring a big chunk of operators' budgets.

In the UK, Three and T-Mobile set up a joint venture called Mobile Broadband Network Ltd (MBNL) in 2007. When T-Mobile and Orange's UK operations merged into Everything Everywhere, the European Commission made the continuation of MBNL a condition of its approval, in order to keep the UK mobile market balanced.

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