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Orange and Vodafone to Expand Network Sharing Partnership

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The UK arms of Orange and Vodafone are expected to expand their existing network sharing agreements to include sharing the costs of engineering, maintenance, and technology, in a move which is expected to save Vodafone (and Orange presumably) around USD1.45 billion a year.

The two companies already share the RAN elements of their respective networks. The RAN includes mast, antenna, sites, site support cabinet and power supply as well as antennae, combiners and transmission links, Nodes B (3G), BTS (2G) and the radio network controllers which are linked to the core network.

The UK's Guardian newspaper noted that the agreement is expected to be viewed positively by the City and should be seen as a feather in the cap of new chief executive Vittorio Collao, who took over from Arun Sarin.

Colao is seeking to cut costs at the company to the tune of 1bn by 2010-11 and wants to make Vodafone "simpler" and "faster", to cope with rising economic, competitive and regulatory pressures. He said: "My ambition is to lead Vodafone in an industry I believe is still attractive, and to fully explore ... Vodafone's strong advantages in brand, scale and assets."

Both operators have also signed up the dominant landline operator, BT to act as their back-haul partners for the next five years.

In related news, Western Isles SNP MP Angus MacNeil is planning to table a motion in the UK Parliament demanding Orange and Vodafone use their network sharing deal to boost coverage in the rural Scottish islands where the service remains patchy. The operators are required to cover a minimum of 99% of the population of the UK as part of their operating license, but this leaves large parts of scarcely populated areas, predominantly in Scotland without mobile phone services.

On the web: The Guardian - The Press and Journal

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Tags: orange  rural  vodafone  core network  ran  landline  bt  bts  parliament  scotland  UK