back to article O2, Vodafone allowed to hop onto each other's towers

The UK Office of Fair Trading has formally approved O2 and Vodafone sharing infrastructure for their 2G and 3G networks, and probably upcoming 4G networks too. The plan to share network infrastructure was announced back in June, but had to be assessed by the Office of Fair Trading, which has now announced that it can go ahead …


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  1. JDX Gold badge

    Different frequencies

    So this will definitely NOT improve coverage then?

    1. TonyHoyle

      Re: Different frequencies

      No, but it'll make rollout cheaper as they can use each others existing towers to expand coverage rather than building entirely new ones.

    2. HMB

      Re: Different frequencies


      Especially in areas where you can get good O2 signal, but not a great Vodagone signal (I can think of one personally already). This will not improve coverage for those Vodafone customers, they'll just be able to use their phone places they weren't able to before, but in no way will that be improved coverage.

  2. Big_Ted

    This will only work is they both win 4G bandwidth

    Interesting outcome if Virgin bid for a segment and win it over O2 or Vodafone, seeing as a large amount of data uses VM fibre to the tower already VM might end as a major player in the mobile world, they already have the sales side sorted with Virgin Media and also loads of fiber in a lot of cities. On top of that with the 4G tests and tests of fiber over telephone poles to supply fiber to the home completed it would be quite easy for them to set up a business for 4G and do a deal with another company to supply the 2G/3G part when away from 4G area. VM need to be relivent in the future and really need mobile under their own control to ensure it.

    Wonder wht O2 and Voafone will do if one of then does lose to a VM bid......4

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    never really understood

    why the networks dont spin off this type of stuff into another company entirely in the same way as landline telco's are not all attempting to parallel build the BT wire-to-the-house infrastructures. This would stave off the 4 towers next to each other expense and reduce a heck of a lot of infrastructure duplication.

    1. HMB

      Re: never really understood

      Survival of the fittest doesn't really work if there's only one player.

      Cable Vs ADSL is a really great way of looking at this.

      You could say, why bother supplying cable TV when people can already use satellite? People did ask that in the 80s! As it turned out, this decision made in the 80s paved the way for fastest widely available high speed internet in the UK. No one knew it at the time. Without the cable network now owned by Virgin, BT may never have bothered rolling out BT Infinity (VDSL 2, currently offering up to 80/20).

      In addition to the innovation arguments, some networks are just better managed than others (O2 comes to mind). Some networks figured out how to offer truly unlimited data (3) while others did not (O2's network colapsed a few times from excessive iPhone data usage). IIRC Orange was the first to offer HD Voice services over it's network. With shared infrastructure not only would innovation be stifled, the lowest common demoninator indulged, but everyone would be at the whim of one organisation to get it right.

      What about the benefits of not duplicating infrastructure. People oversimplify this, thinking that one tower can handle an infinite amount of people and it can't. Companies that are well run will have spare capacity, but they wont spend loads on having a lot more than they need. I very much doubt that one company's infrastructure could support everyone in the UK. Particulalry if that company was one of the smaller ones. So this idea that we can save towers starts to go out the window.

      Duplication of existing services in different ways leads to the best way of serving the public at the lowest cost.

      Businesses will start sharing infrastructure when it is in the public good (selling good products and services means more profit to them) and they have and they are.

      1. HMB

        Re: never really understood

        Ok, perhaps I should have said Cable Vs Satellite :)

        Though Cable Vs ADSL still became very true several years later on. It becomes an arms race to offer the best service.

    2. James 100

      Re: never really understood

      Exactly what Three and Orange-T-Mobile did with MBNL (Mobile Broadband Network Limited).

      I suppose Vodafone and O2 might feel they have an advantage over the others in more extensive infrastructure, and joining such a pool would forfeit that lead - but yes, if competition authorities allowed, pooling all the masts, backhaul etc into one would make a lot of sense.

      Or, for that matter, reciprocal roaming. If I'm in a gap in O2's network but can still get a Vodafone signal, why can't I roam onto Vodafone to fill that gap, in exchange for O2 filling similar gaps in Vodafone's coverage? Too sensible, I suppose.

      1. Joel 1
        Big Brother

        Re: never really understood

        Originally this was banned by Ofcom - it has always seemed daft that I can roam in Europe, thus getting excellent 3G coverage, but back in Blighty I am forced to the coverage pattern that my supplier has. Roaming in Europe now just costs an extra £3 a day when I have cause to use it.

        I asked a Vodafone bod about it at a networks show, and was told that Ofcom had deemed that roaming in the UK was not in the customer's interest (not sure how that works either). It led to the situation where it was great to have a Manx Telecom sim card, as this was able to use Cellnet (as was) network at no extra cost, but could roam if needed.

        1. Bill Ray (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: Re: never really understood

          Not banned by Ofcom, but not mandated either.

          There was a call for intra-country roaming to be forced on the network operators, but Ofcom did indeed decide that this wasn't in the customers' interest (as operators would have less incentive to extend their coverage), so there has never been any restriction on operators doing this if they wanted to.

          But they they didn't.


  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's worth pointing out the O2 already deploy 3G in the 900Mhz space (i.e. UMTS 900) for a couple of years now. Only Voda seems slow with this rollout.

  5. ARGO
    Thumb Down

    4G would work in 900MHz

    "so some sort of spectrum swap would be necessary to make it viable"

    Nope, just the next edition of the 4G standard. Try a search on "carrier aggregation".

  6. Firvulag
    Paris Hilton

    New company name

    I thought Vodaphone had changed company name to No Service.

    At least thats what it shows on my phone around 6 miles outside Aberdeen and Edinburgh city centers.

    Hopefully this will improve their diabolical network coverage where you have to lean outside a window to get a signal.

    Paris because she always gets a good reception,

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I get great Vodafone signal at my new house but at the old one I didn't but a £50 sure signal box sorted that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Rip off: £50 to provide the capability that Orange offer for free with their Signal Boost option.

      I know Toadafone claim their solution is more secure, but fundamentally it's just pumping your mobile traffic over your broadband, and I'd rather have it for free than pay £50.

      The Orange solution doesn't work for iPhones, but iPhone users will be happy to be reamed out again, cancelling their existing contract, taking out a Voda deal, and then paying an extra fifty coins.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Competition in a free and fair market.

    Competition in a free and fair market.

    Gotta love it.

    Well, on the rare occasions you can find it.

    Cellcos competing via confusion pricing.

    DSL broadband companies competing in a race to the gutter.

    Marvellous, this free market.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bad Omen... ?

    I had a good signal with T-Mobile until they merged stuff with Orange (whose signal was very poor here)

    A couple of months later my T-Mobile signal got much weaker.

    So I changed to o2 and get a very good signal.

    Now o2 are to merge stuff with Vodafone whose signal is usually non-existent here.

    It does not bode well...

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