Telefonica and Vodafone may share networks across Europe

Annie Turner
18 Mar 2009

Last week we reported that O2 (owned by Telefonica) and Vodafone were thought to be planning to rationalize and share their radio network infrastructure in the UK.

Today, Expansion (cited by Reuters) reports that Vodafone and Telefonica are considering extending the arrangement much further, extending the agreement to everywhere that the two have networks: Spain, Germany, Ireland and the Czech Republic.

In the current climate, this could pave the way for other multi-country agreements, perhaps such as between Orange (France Telecom’s mobile brand) and T-Mobile (owned by Deutsche Telekom) across Europe.

But it also has implications for developing markets such as in Africa where the era of land grab by operators is moving into the more realistic, if difficult era of making a sustainable profit.

Whether in developed or developing markets, there are considerable difficulties to be overcome, from getting competitive organizations to cooperate and work together, while protecting their businesses’ best interests. It certainly didn’t work for the like of Unisource and Global One back in the 1990s.

This is not to mention issues such as who uses which spectrum where and how compatible or otherwise this might make them technologically, nor differences of culture between organizations or the really boring, but absolutely crucial stuff if the endeavor is to generate the desired savings in resources and cash.

Great headline story, as ever the devil is in the detail.

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