O2 and Vodafone have announced plans to expand site sharing in the UK, speeding up the rollout of their respective 5G networks.
The two mobile operators already share some passive tower infrastructure through a 50:50 joint venture called Cornerstone.
Now, they have agreed to share 5G active equipment, such as radio antennas, at joint network sites across the UK.
“This agreement will enable us to roll-out 5G faster and more efficiently, benefiting customers while delivering value for our business,” said Mark Evans, CEO of O2 Telefónica UK.
Vodafone launched its 5G service in seven UK cities earlier in July, while O2’s 5G network will go live in October.
As part of the new agreement O2 and Vodafone will have greater network autonomy at sites in 23 cities. At a quarter of all shared sites the two operators will install their own radio equipment, fibre ‘backhaul’ connection and power supply, while continuing to share physical elements such as the mast.
In addition, Cornerstone will look to improve operational efficiencies and explore potential monetisation options such as opening up the shared masts to other operators.
Announcing O2’s October launch last week, Evans described 5G as a “game changer” for the UK.
“Whether it’s for people or businesses, the power of this next-generation network is going to unlock a world of possibilities for our economy and society,” he said.
At launch, O2’s 5G service will be available in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, London and Slough. It will extend to 20 towns and cities by the end of the year, and a total of 50 by summer 2020.
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