UK mobile operators T-Mobile and 3UK this week tapped BT as a backhaul supplier for their consolidated 3G infrastructure.

When it was announced in December last year, the 50:50 joint venture company called Mobile Broadband Network (MBNL), signalled the world’s largest known active 3G network sharing agreement to date.

Under the agreement, masts and the 3G access networks are being combined, but each company’s core network and T-Mobile’s 2G network will not be shared. Both parties retain responsibility for the delivery of services to their respective customers and use their own spectrum.

The joint venture network operator has signed a five year managed network solutions agreement with BT to provide high speed, next generation links connecting 7,500 base station sites. BT’s next-generation Ethernet service is currently being rolled out in the UK market. The service will deliver improved access and backhaul service delivery to MBNL based on BT’s 21CN global platform.

Graham Baxter, CTO of 3 UK, said: “This contract forms a vital element of our work to build the UK’s best mobile broadband network. Given the massive growth in the use of data on our network, the BT agreement brings us the scalability we will require in a critical element of the network consolidation.”