Vodafone and 3 confirm Irish network merger

Mobile network operators Vodafone and Hutchison Whampoa’s 3 have confirmed a merger of their telecommunications infrastructure in Ireland.

Under the plans, Vodafone and 3 will share network infrastructure at more than 2,000 sites in Ireland.

Rumours about the merger, which will create the largest network in Ireland, appeared last week. At the time, Reuters’ sources said that the plans would lead to “significant” cost savings and improved network coverage.

While the cost savings have not been revealed, the Financial Times said that each company could save more than £200 million over five years.

Similar to its deal in the UK with Telefónica’s O2, Vodafone will only share its telecoms infrastructure, with 3 and Vodafone keeping control of their own spectrum, radio equipment and retail services.

Robert Finnegan, CEO of 3, said that the deal will enable the companies to deliver new technologies, such as LTE, “faster than ever before”.

The new joint venture is expected to be fully operational from the autumn, and will be headquartered in Dublin.

A managing director will be appointed to lead a new management board at the company, and about 80 employees – including support roles and staff who work in the network operations centre – will transfer from Vodafone Ireland and Three Ireland to the new joint venture company after a consultation period.

The Vodafone and Telefónica network merger was announced last month.

Under the terms of the partnership, both companies will continue to run competing mobile internet and voice networks, and will retain control of their wireless spectrum, core networks and customer data.

The aim was to speed up the delivery of 4G services in the UK, the mobile operators said.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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