Mobile operators Orange and Vodafone have agreed to share network resources. The pair had been in talks about how they could work together since last year.
Orange and Vodafone said the deal to share 2G and 3G mobile masts in the UK, which will start to be implemented this year, will see more customers benefit from better quality mobile coverage. Half of the UK's population — the pair's combined customer base — will be able to make use of the pooled resources, they said.
The deal will reduce operational costs for the two companies as the number of mast sites can be reduced by an estimated 15 percent — or almost 3,000 sites — in the first two years alone. This reduction also has environmental benefits, according to the two companies.
The pair said they will continue to maintain separate networks and retain full responsibility for quality of service to their respective customers. They will also continue to compete in the UK mobile and wholesale markets.
The agreement follows a recent network love-in between rival operators 3 and T-Mobile. Network sharing is not on operator O2's agenda, however. Ben Dowd, head of business sales at O2, recently told ZDNet.co.uk's sister site silicon.com that owning its own network is a unique selling point for the company.