Europe's biggest operators get together for pan-EU network sharing plan

Some of the biggest telcos in Europe, including Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica, have been discussing a plan to share their network infrastructure across the continent

A pan-European network sharing deal could be in the offing between some of Europe's biggest telcos.

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According to a report in the Financial Times on Wednesday, operators including Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom, Telecom Italia and Spain's Telefonica – which owns the O2 network in the UK – have had meetings with the European competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia on the subject of pooling network infrastructure.

Since the meeting, the companies have explored the possibility of creating a new company to take on responsibility for the combined infrastructure and related debt. The company could then wholesale network access back to the operators, the Financial Times reported.

The move is viewed as one way to allow the companies to better compete with international rivals and make more headway in "Europe's disjointed market", the paper reports.

Network sharing is already fairly common – in the UK, for example, Vodafone and O2 share mobile infrastructure , while Vodafone and Three do something similar in Ireland . However, network sharing typically takes the form of an agreement between two operators in a single country; should the proposed pan-European plan get the go-ahead, it would be the first time such a measure would involve such a large number of operators over such a wide area.

The European Commission, Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom, Telecom Italia and Telefonica did not immediately respond to request for comment.