T-Mobile and 3 UK build Europe’s largest shared 3G network

T-Mobile UK and 3 UK are on course to complete their joint network infrastructure program by the end of 2010. The pair says that when completed, it will be Europe’s largest shared network and will offer smartphone and dongle customers the biggest 3G coverage in the UK, along with excellent levels of connection coverage and performance.

The HSDPA 3G network already offers outdoor coverage to more than 90% of Britain’s population. By the end of this year, the network coverage will be expanded to more than 98% of the population.

In December 2007, anticipating the rapid growth of Mobile Internet and data usage that was to come, T-Mobile UK and 3 UK pooled their 3G network infrastructure in a 50:50 joint venture company, Mobile Broadband Network Ltd. (MBNL). The purpose was to be able to create Britain’s best 3G network more rapidly and more efficiently than either party could do alone.

The resulting shared network requires fewer masts, consumes less energy and provides customers with a superior mobile broadband service.

Today, T-Mobile and 3 UK say they are building Europe’s largest shared network in record time. MBNL has already consolidated more than 7,000 sites out of a total of over 12,500 T-Mobile UK and 3 UK mast sites due to be brought together by October this year. When completed, the integration program will also mean more than 3,000 redundant sites will have been switched off.

Reinforcing the network’s capacity, a new contract worth over £400 million has been agreed between MBNL, on behalf of T-Mobile UK and 3 UK, and Nokia Siemens Networks. This will include the provision of 3G radio network infrastructure, mobile network planning, implementation, optimisation and maintenance. The provision of equipment and services is already underway.

Graham Payne, managing director of MBNL said: “Smartphone and mobile laptop data traffic growth in the UK has been unprecedented, and every sign is it will continue growing fast. With Nokia Siemens Networks, we are confident of providing the UK’s most smartphone friendly, high-speed 3G network to more people in the UK than any other operator, delivering exceptional services to both T-Mobile UK and 3 UK subscribers.”

Both T-Mobile UK and 3 UK have experienced very high growth in mobile data and Internet usage resulting in the MBNL network carrying by far the highest volume of data traffic of all networks deployed by Nokia Siemens Networks globally.

Emin Gurdenli, technical director at T-Mobile UK said: “As high-speed mobile broadband becomes increasingly adopted for fast, simple Internet access wherever you are, network performance becomes an increasingly important competitive differentiator. The growth in mobile broadband usage clearly provides challenges for networks. They are challenges we have anticipated and intend to keep on anticipating with our further investment in technology and services.”

Graham Baxter, chief technology officer at 3 UK said: “We believe that with Nokia Siemens Networks as our principal technology partner, MBNL will deliver on its objective of creating what will be Europe’s largest HSDPA network in record timescales to quickly enable the best customer experience.”

To ensure that both operators can enjoy the benefits of the MBNL network expansion, while functioning independently, Nokia Siemens Networks has implemented its Multi-operator Radio Access Network (MORAN) platform which offers flexibility while merging two networks, enables the re-use of existing infrastructure, and allows a reduction in the number of sites.

Steve Glanville, head of the T-Mobile UK and MBNL customer team at Nokia Siemens Networks said: “As operators across the world strive to realize the opportunities offered by mobile broadband, they also face major challenges related to costs and efficiency. We have a strong existing relationship with T-Mobile and 3 UK, and are committed to helping them deliver their growth objectives. We are helping them simplify their network, meet the ever increasing consumer demand for capacity, and realize cost savings.”

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