Vodafone and Telefonica to establish one shared grid in Britain

Mobile phone operators Vodafone and Telefonica (owners of O2) on Thursday jointly announced plans to establish one shared grid in Britain. The purpose of the new shared grid in the UK is said to be to improve existing coverage as well as speeding up the roll out of superfast broadband networks.

Both companies already have an agreement to share new network sites and with the addition of this new plan they said they expect to strengthen their partnership by pooling their basic network infrastructure in an effort to take their national population coverage to 98% by 2015. With this agreement 4G mobile services are scheduled to be delivered two years ahead of UK telecoms regulator Ofcom’s requirement of 98% coverage by 2017. 4G mobile services are intended to allow users to download music and videos to their mobile phones at high speed.

Under the terms of the new agreement the two groups will also be able to build two competing fourth generation networks more quickly than they could have achieved on their own.

The new agreement for this shared grid in the UK is expected to keep costs down for both of the companies as they are both facing challenges with weak customer spending in Europe. Telefonica is said to be under particular pressure to cut its debt pile and is currently said to be stepping up plans to dispose of some of its assets.

Both companies will form a joint venture to run the planned shared grid in addition to still running an independent spectrum and competing services off the infrastructure.