O2 & Vodafone finalise UK 5G network agreement

24 July 2019

O2 Vodafone 5G

O2 & Vodafone have reached a new site sharing agreement to speed up 5G roll-out across the UK. Both parties have also agreed to greater 5G autonomy for 2,700 sites in larger cities, and are exploring potential monetisation options for their 50:50 jointly-owned passive tower infrastructure.

O2 and Vodafone have announced that they have agreed to share 5G active equipment, such as radio antennas, on joint network sites across the UK. This means more people will get 5G sooner, helping to build a competitive digital economy and encouraging innovative new services that use 5G’s far faster speed and greater reliability.

Network sharing accelerates access to the benefits of 5G, while at the same time both reducing the impact on the environment and lowering roll-out costs, allowing more investment in services for customers.

O2 and Vodafone have also agreed to greater 5G network autonomy on approximately 2,700 sites in 23 of the UK’s larger cities, representing just over 16% of combined mast sites. This is in addition to London – previously announced in 2018 – bringing the total number of autonomous sites to 25%. It gives both parties more flexibility to meet the needs of their customers and deploy future network technologies. At these sites, each party will install their own radio equipment, fibre ‘backhaul’ connection and power supply, whilst continuing to limit the environmental impact by sharing the physical elements, such as the mast.

Today’s agreement will see Cornerstone, the 50:50 joint venture company that owns and manages the parties’ passive tower infrastructure, take an additional role in the deployment of both networks, and look to capture further operational efficiencies. In addition, O2 and Vodafone will now proceed to explore potential monetisation options for Cornerstone.

Mark Evans, CEO, Telefónica UK, said: “Today is an important step in demonstrating our commitment to invest for the future, with mobile connectivity one of the UK’s most powerful opportunities to strengthen the economy and improve the lives of British people. This agreement will enable us to roll-out 5G faster and more efficiently, benefiting customers while delivering value for our business. It also importantly allows us to utilise the spectrum we acquired in the last auction very effectively.”

Nick Jeffery, CEO, Vodafone UK, said: “We’re driving our 5G roll-out forward with this agreement, and taking our customers, our business and the whole of the UK with us. Greater autonomy in major cities will allow us to accelerate deployment, and together with active network sharing, ensures that our customers will get super-fast 5G in even more places more quickly, using fewer masts. We can boost capacity where our customers need it most so they can take full advantage of our new unlimited plans. And it demonstrates our commitment to further invest in our multi-billion pound network in the years to come, helping the UK become a digital pioneer.”

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