Two U.K. Mobile Firms Build Combo 3G Network

T-Mobile UK and 3 UK are combining their wireless infrastructure to build a 3G network more quickly and at lower cost than either could do on its own.
Two mobile phone companies in the United Kingdom -- T-Mobile UK and 3 UK -- have begun to combine their wireless infrastructure to build a 3G wireless network more quickly and at less cost than either could do on its own. The effort will save each GSM service provider more than $1 billion.

The agreement, which is slated to provide national 3G coverage in 2009, will offer a variety of improvements, ranging from the elimination of 5,000 antennas to a rapid deployment of high-speed HSDPA network technology.

Mobile phone companies around the world are moving to open up their networks and to collaborate in developing wireless infrastructure. T-Mobile, a unit of Deutsche Telekom, operates the largest wireless network in Germany and the fourth-largest network in the United States. Hong Kong-based Hutchison Wampoa owns 3 UK, which operates mobile phone networks in several countries. Although the companies made no mention of any additional collaborative deals, the U.K. combo will provide them with cooperative experience for future deployments.

HSDPA is a likely infrastructure candidate for most existing mobile phone networks because it's compatible with existing W-CDMA and EDGE wireless technologies, which are built on the European-developed GSM wireless standard.

"This will be the first time that a 3G access network in this country is able to achieve both the reach and the capacity to meet the needs of the future," said Jim Hyde, chief executive of T-Mobile UK, in a statement. "From 2008, customers can expect to have access to high-speed 3G services in a greater number of locations than we can currently serve over our existing infrastructure."

The two companies said their shared network should be finished in slightly over two years and will cover the United Kingdom with 3G mobile broadband service. Announced in December, the 50-50 Mobile Broadband Network Limited partnership will result in the decommissioning of 5,000 duplicate antenna sites and other duplicate expenses.

"It is exciting to consider that within a short period of time, wherever you can get 2G mobile coverage today you will be able to access the Internet at broadband speeds from a 3G mobile device," said Kevin Russell, CEO of 3 UK, in a statement.

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