Merger of 3UK and T-Mobile UK networks complete

12,000 UK sites have been consolidated as part of the MBNL projectEricsson has announced that the project to merge the UK 3G networks of T-Mobile and 3 has been completed, with more than 12,00o sites consolidated. The two carriers created a third party organisation, Mobile Broadband Network Ltd (MBNL) in 2007 to run the joint network, with Ericsson the primary service provider to MBNL.

The project is believed to be the biggest of its kind in the industry to date, and the firms said that all 3G sites, transmitters, base station equipment and backhaul connected to the operators’ core networks are now fully configured for high speed mobile broadband access. Those involved with the programme said that bringing the two networks together was an order of magnitude more complex than active RAN shares that are designed as such from the deployment stage.

“It’s without a doubt the biggest project I’ve ever been involved in,” said Graham Payne, managing director of MBNL. “In terms of the scale, and the transformation of the networks of T-Mobile and 3, it’s an absolutely monumental project.”

Magnus Mandersson, Head of Business Unit Global Services, Ericsson, said: “This was an unparalleled and quite complex managed services and systems integration consolidation project. Its success shows the benefits to partners of network sharing and reflects a new business model that the industry can learn a great deal from.”

It is likely that this is just phase one of a much larger project. Since the announcement of the merger of Orange UK and T-Mobile UK into Everything Everywhere earlier this year, it has looked inevitable that a degree of integration of the Orange UK network into the MBNL project will follow. Everything Everywhere will not want Orange to miss out on the savings made possible by such a consolidation. More than 5,000 sites were switched off as part of the MBNL project.

Not all carriers believe that network sharing is the best operational model, however. Recently Hugh Bradlow, CTO of Australian player Telstra dismissed network sharing, describing it as “a race to the bottom.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.