Carriers will reportedly build next stage of their LTE networks together

UK mobile operators Three and EE are set to work together on the next part of their 4G LTE networks, according to a report from the Financial Times. The FT reports that the largest and smallest major UK carriers will share masts and backhaul transmission costs as part of a deal that'll see £1 billion ($1.63 billion) being jointly invested.

The agreement covers cost and infrastructure sharing, however there's "greater flexibility" for both EE and Three to control the speeds and coverage of their networks, according to the report. That means the entire 4G network isn't being shared between the two — "the antennas, spectrum and the core network will also be different for the two groups." The deal is also said to revise the conditions of Three's existing network-sharing agreement with EE.

The deal will allow both operators share the burden of building out further LTE coverage, but it could be beneficial to Three in particular as it looks to boost its 4G presence. Three currently in the process of rolling out 4G coverage to portions of its customer base, being the last major UK provider to do so. By comparison EE already has a fairly widespread 4G network, as do rivals Vodafone and O2, and the operator will be keen to maintain the early lead it established by launching LTE services first in late 2012.

Vodafone and O2 already have their own LTE network-sharing agreement in place as of mid-2013. That agreement appears to be more closely-knit than the deal between EE and Three, involving a common "grid" running behind both companies' 4G networks.

Source: Financial Times


Reader comments

Three and EE to share 4G LTE infrastructure and costs


Considering how fast Three's 3G is in a lot of areas and the fact we can get properly unlimited data, I'm not so sure "poor old 3 customers" is entirely warranted ;-)

Maybe some of three's pricing and data plan structure will rub off on EE, I wouldn't hold my breath!

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Three's 3g is plenty fast enough, and unlimited data for way less than EEs cheapest contract which is capped at 500mb.

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Well I'm on unlimited calls, texts, and 10gb of 4G data for £46 a month on EE which is decent. Although where I live in the North of Scotland the best I get is hsdpa+ again it's fast enough but hopefully this news will speed up the rollout of 4G and it won't be long before I get what I'm paying for :-)

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Does this potentially mean that EE and Three will share masts for 4G? Would be great to have somewhat weak coverage on 4G boosted! Thanks.

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I meant poor old customers solely as us being behind on getting 4G. Personally their service at the moment is plenty fast for me. Coupled with unlimited data means I would never go back to o2

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3's DC-HSPA speeds are pretty incredible although that's download only. At home I tend to get 25-28Mbit so can only imagine what the 4G speeds will be like when it's fully rolled out.

As others have said, the unlimited data side of this network is the major selling point. The contract prices themselves tend to be very cheap anyway.