Vodafone, Orange sharing fixed and mobile infrastructure in Spain
5G networks require significant investment from operators in more fiber and more network infrastructure gear and sites. In an effort to deploy 5G as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible, some operators are cooperating with competitors.
Commercial 5G availability is currently offered by SK Telecom and KT. Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported in January that SK, KT LG Uplus and SK Broadband will share the deployment costs, which will save nearly $1 billion over a decade. “Our is goal is to lead the fourth industrial revolution and to support the early commercialization of 5G technology,” Jun Sung-bae, a senior ICT ministry official, said, according to Yonhap.
Now, in Spain, Vodafone and Orange are similarly cooperating to “provide a better service to customers, help us address coverage requirements faster and more efficiently and also reduce the industry’s environmental impact,” Vodafone Chief Executive Nick Read said. “As we approach a 5G world, we have a window of opportunity to design networks with other operators who share our passion for quality and coverage.”
The two operators have been cooperating since 2006 on sharing passive infrastructure across the country and active infrastructure in new a towns of up to 25,000 residents. Per the new arrangement, now the Voda and Orange will share RAN and backhaul networks in cities of up to 175,000 people.
The number of shared sites will jump from 5,600 to more than 14,000 with, the companies expect reduced capex and opex of “at least” $670 million over the next decade.
Tim Moynihan, senior vice president of marketing at SOLiD, discussed this dynamic with RCR Wireless News. SOLiD’s parent company is based in Korea.
“Seoul is one of the densest cities in the world–twice as dense as New York City,” he said. In Korea, “The number of antennas, repeaters and things like that, the amount of gear, has probably been underestimated about what’s needed. The number of antennas and things that are going to drive those antennas, it’s a concern, but they’re being installed.” Related to 5G in the U.S., the big question he said is “How do you deploy this–not just mass coverage. How are the operators going to be working together? Are they going to be competing, are they going to be cooperating? Just the sheer volume of equipment is something we’re all going to have to think, as an industry, about, particularly the operators. I think it’s one of the driving challenges of our industry at this point.”
In additinon to an expanded sharing deal for wireless and fiber, the two companies said they would considering sharing the costs of future fiber-to-the-home construction.