back to article Vodafone and O2 to merge mobile networks

O2 and Vodafone will pool their mobile phone masts and antennas to slash costs and reduce the number of physical networks in Blighty to two. The pair will compete as separate operators, using different radio frequencies, but by 2015 those signals will be received by jointly-owned antennas and backhauled over shared cables. The …


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  1. Andrew 63

    (though O2 has switched some of its 900MHz to 3G around London).

    Nice bit of inaccuracy there... do some research before posting such non-sense.

    3G 900Mhz has been rolled out to many cities and towns around the UK, including some rural spots now. Have a look on Sitefinder (they've updated that recently with the new masts) if you don't believe me.

    On the other side of the coin, this is a good move as coverage will now be better in theory for both networks, they just need to make sure they have enough back haul otherwise data munchers will be p*ssed.

    1. Alan 6

      Forgive me for being pedantic, but the information is not inaccurate.

      Incomplete maybe, but not inaccurate...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can't wait for the savings to be passed on to me

    1. I think so I am?

      A long wait

      I predict the year 2215... but which time we will all be telepathically linked by BrainFi the next evolution in mobile communication.

      the coat with UP TO 100% off!

      on selected items

  3. Andrew James

    This is good news. I've been put off what would otherwise be very good deals from Vodafone for years because where i live is absolute zero in terms of signal strength. I have to go about 300 yards from my house before i even reach sufficient signal to send texts. O2 on the other hand is really strong - as are Orange and T-Mobile.

    I'd actually quite like to see all the networks merge to use one huge backbone of masts and network, and differentiate themselves in terms of what they offer, at what price, and the customer service you receive.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      1. Wize


        You suggest let Vodafone use my broad band and pay them for the privilege by buying a box from them because they can't be bothered giving my area a good signal?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "SureSignal"

          Better than nothing

    2. Mike007

      except if they did combine all their networks in to 1 network then if you didn't have a signal then the option of using a different network that does have a signal would be gone - along with the incentives to provide better coverage than your current provider to take your custom

  4. Nev Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Tax Dodgers V2.0

    People of Britain: Prepare to be ****ed.

  5. Michael Jennings

    > (Three having decided against running a 2G network at all).

    To be fair, I don't think they had any choice in the matter. All the 2G spectrum that exists had already been given to the existing four operators when they entered the market, and a 3G licence and 3G spectrum was all that was on offer. They probably would have liked to have a 2G network up to about 2007 or so, when many of the most popular handsets were still 2G handsets (the originalMotorola RAZR, for instance) and 2G devices were still less power hungry and more reliable, but I can't imagine they care now. It would be possible for them to build a 2G network in a couple of years time by buying the 1800MHz spectrum EE is obliged to sell and building it there, but there is no point now. In the present technology environment, their present network is fine for competing with their competitors.

    >EE and Three haven't said if their deal will extend into 4G technologies; holding

    >that decision until after the 4G spectrum auction, but Vodafone and Telefonica

    >have made it clear that they foresee the combined network extending well into

    >the forth generation of mobile broadband.

    When the T-Mobile/Orange merger was taking place, I did read reports that there was at least an option for network share for 4G in the existing T-Mobile/3 network share deal. Continuing with this deal was required by regulators in return for allowing the merger (which constrained the terms on which Orange was able to merge its network with the T-Mobile/3 network), so it may be that these parties are not as free to make that decision later as they would like to be and/or are claiming to be. I cannot imagine that there is much disagreement, though - their not continuing with the network share for 4G strikes me as very unlikely.

    >Telefonica and Vodafone hold 2G spectrum at 900MHz, which has decent

    >building penetration but is full of 2G customers. They also both have small

    >holdings at 1800MHz and run their 3G networks at 2.1GHz like the rest of

    >the world (though O2 has switched some of its 900MHz to 3G around London).

    "Rest of the world" is a bit of an overstatement. Much of the world (but not Europe) used the US AMPS system for 1G analogue phones, which meant the allocation of the 850MHz bands. Almost all of the world (except for North America) then allocated 900MHz for 2G GSM, but as there is not significant overlap between these two bands, both 850MHz and 900MHz remained allocated in a lot of places. When 3G came along, most places announced that they would be allocating and using the 2100MHz UMTS band for it, but a lot of them subsequently discovered that 850MHz was still allocated, what networks existing in it (AMPS or CDMA) were underused and in decline, there was plenty of 850MHz hardware due to its use for 3G in the US, and that due to better building penetration and the like this was the best place to build their networks. There are therefore a surprisingly large number of 850MHz 3G networks in the world, in many cases with the bulk of the networks being at 850MHz with overlay of 2100MHz in the cities. There is certainly a lot more 850MHz 3G in the world than 900MHz 3G, even outside the US.

    The rest of the non-Americas world followed Europe for 2G with respect to frequency bands and *then announced* that it would follow Europe for 3G, but what actually happened was bit more complex than this.

    >How that maps onto the 4G networks we won’t know, but the commitment to

    >deploy two 4G networks on the same infrastructure will impact the spectrum

    >strategy of both companies: a combined network operator won't want to buy

    >the chunk of 1800MHz that EE is required to get shot of, for example, so while

    >the two networks will retain separate spectrum holdings the pooling of infrastructure

    >will have an impact on the market.

    If EE is allowed to build 4G at 1800MHz *and* if 1800MHz becomes a commonly used 4G frequency band elsewhere and hardware that supports it becomes relatively available, the obvious thing would be for Three to buy this spectrum holding from EE, and then use it for its network share with EE. Three and EE would then be happy, but O2 and Vodafone less so, one would think. (They would presumably each then buy a chunk of 2600MHz in an open auction and network share with that).

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Three share with Orange/EE now?

    Aha - that might explain why the office I work in used to have truly terrible 3 signal (the company is an Orange business customer and have the internal phone network extended to their Blackberries), I go on holiday for a month, and now find I've got lots of lovely 3 coverage!

  7. Nick Kew

    Not before time!

    For each telco to maintain separate infrastructure is ... like having separate road networks for customers of Ford vs Honda vs VW. Lots of duplication of those masts everyone loves, among other things.

    Thank you O2 and Vod for belatedly getting your acts together.

  8. ravenviz
    Thumb Up


    Now I'll be able to tell people I'm on the train twice as often!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does this mean Vodafone might actually get some decent 3G coverage with decent speeds?

    Try going online with 3G in Canary wharf on Vodafone, no chance! 3 on the other hand, blistering speeds!

    I've been with Vodafone for years, and as a company they have been pretty good, with UK call centers & knowledgeable staff.

    But I left for 3, purely because I need fast internet on my phone with a large data allowance, Vodafone don't do that, Vodafone are way behind the times with mobile data....

  10. Polly_from_Wick

    Several years ago Vodafone and O2 wanted to share masts and backhaul in the remote areas of Scotland and Wales along with parts of the UK as a way to improve overall coverage where the return on investment would be negative. If you spend time up in the remote areas - as I do, some areas are Vodafone and others O2/Telefonica with dual coverage in towns.

    When the plan was put forward it was stopped after complaints to the EU about "anti-competitive behaviour" from, I believe, other operators.

    I hope that this time it will be allowed to go through and be approved.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When I was in London in April my French (SFR) Nokia phone automatically roamed onto Vodafone, and then crashed. This was entirely repeatable, over a period of several days, and happened to a colleague (with a different Nokia) as well. Forcing the phones onto one of the other networks allowed them to work fine. Does this merger mean that my phone will now crash on both Vodafone AND O2? :(

    Anyone else ever experienced this?

    1. Andrew 63

      Blame SFR

      For the crap firmware they have crippled your phone with. This is why I buy SIM Free.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This is simply a means of keeping the French off of our decent phone networks. Nothing to be alarmed about.

  12. Richard Cartledge

    Will EE or VFO2 buy Three and put them out of their misery.

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