Telecom Italia and 3 strike site sharing deal

Network sharing is becoming increasingly commonplace in the mobile industry, and Italian operators Telecom Italia and 3 Italia have taken tentative steps in that direction with the announcement of a co-siting agreement.

The deal will see TI and 3 share radio mobile access sites – including both existing sites and those which will be built in the future – and concerns a minimum of 2,000 locations.

The objects of the agreement are the so called “passive” infrastructures: poles, cables, electricity supply and conditioning systems and other civil infrastructures, yet the companies expects costs savings of about 30 per cent when the deal is in full swing. The agreement will last for three years and is renewable.

In a bid to boost nationwide coverage, the two carriers will also house each others’ radio mobile stations, but this will not include devices capable of delivering services to customers.

“The value of this agreement is two-fold,” said Stefano Pileri, director of technology and operations at Telecom Italia. “From the point of view of efficiency, it will be possible to significantly reduce the cost of site leases, one of the highest cost items in mobile networks. Secondly, the progressive reduction of the number of antennas will have a positive impact on the environment”.

Informa Telecoms & Media analyst Paul Lambert recently commented that network and infrastructure sharing has come a long way. “A few years ago operators were not only focussed on operating networks; they saw the complications to agreeing the legal aspects of sharing too much of a barrier to enter into deals.

“While it’s true that the economic downturn is leading operators to broker deals that may in the past have broken down, the timing of it coincides with the change in operators’ priorities.”

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