Vodafone and 3 in joint venture deal
VODAFONE IRELAND and 3 have signed a deal that will see the two networks share infrastructure, potentially saving millions of euro and improving mobile phone coverage.
The announcement puts an end to speculation about a potential deal between the two firms which was rumoured last week.
However, despite the new alliance, mobile bosses promised that the fight for consumers would continue “tooth and nail”.
3 Ireland’s chief executive Robert Finnegan said the new agreement would allow the network to roll out new technology at a faster pace.
The mobile networks will create a joint venture company in which each will have an equal share.
Under the deal, the joint venture will be responsible for the maintenance of site infrastructure at more than 2,000 locations across Ireland, and will also take over the building of all new sites.
The deal will allow duplicate sites to be eliminated, and gives each company access to the other’s sites.
Vodafone Ireland has 2,200 sites around the country, with 3 Ireland at 1,200. That suggests up to 1,400 sites may be eliminated due to duplication.
It is understood that the venture could save hundreds of millions of euro for each of the two networks.
Vodafone declined to put a figure on the savings, but said the deal would enable it to concentrate investment on the “intelligent” part of its network, developing and growing its data network and service offering.
The new company will be based in Dublin, and is expected to be up and running by the autumn.
Some 80 staff from Vodafone and 3 will be transferred to the new company, including employees working in radio and transmission teams, the network operations centre and support roles.
It is not yet known how many will come from each network.
The operators will continue to run the “intelligent” elements of the network separately, such as core network capabilities and service platforms. They will also manage their own radio equipment and spectrum.
“Securing future investment for technologies in a competitive market is critical to maintaining a sustainable business,” said Vodafone Ireland chief executive Jeroen Hoencamp.
“This agreement, in which infrastructure is shared between both parties, means we can concentrate investment on the intelligent part of the network that will ultimately deliver a better experience for Vodafone customers.”
He said new radio sites would be selected by the joint venture on their potential for best coverage.
Mr Finnegan said the announcement was significant for Irish consumers, and would combine the best of both networks. “It makes sense even in the current climate with the current spectrum.”