Arch carrier rivals Telefónica and Vodafone have signed a deal that will see them share cell-tower hardware, consolidating existing 2G and 3G base-stations and working together on future installations. The agreement will first impact the UK, Germany, Ireland and Spain, with further negotiations taking place regarding the Czech Republic.
Both carriers will continue to manage their network traffic independently, and operate as separate entities. What this will mean for users, though, is broader cellphone coverage and, ironically, greater competition in areas where previously only Vodafone or Telefonica/O2 offered services like mobile broadband.
There’ll also be environmental impacts, as fewer sites are required and reduced amounts of hardware. The degree of collaboration varies by location: in Spain, for instance, the two carriers simply share power, cabinets and masts, while in Ireland they now plan to open all network sites for sharing.