Mobile Broadband Network Limited (MBNL), the 50:50 joint venture formed by 3UK and T-Mobile UK to manage the integration of both operators' 3G radio access networks (RAN), has awarded Ericsson a four-year managed services contract for the operation and maintenance of the consolidated network.
T-Mobile and 3 formed their infrastructure sharing agreement in January 2008 with the aim of creating the UK's most extensive 3G network by 2010. This ground-breaking network collaboration will deliver close to complete nationwide population coverage for 3G services and significantly improve in-building signal strength. The agreement will also deliver substantial cost savings as well as environmental benefits, including the decommissioning of an estimated 5,000 cell sites.
Under the terms of the agreement, Ericsson has responsibility for the operation and performance management of both parent companies' 3G networks and T-Mobile's 2G RAN infrastructure. The four-year contract will enable MBNL to control operational expenses and deliver high service levels at a time when the 3G network consolidation is moving into the mass deployment phase.
The first integrated cell site was commissioned in early February 2008. Since then MBNL has concluded a pilot in the Leeds and Bradford area which successfully validated the network sharing technology and is now engaged in consolidating the radio access networks across the UK.
Around 80 employees from T-Mobile have been transferred to Ericsson, further strengthening its existing UK managed services capability. In the UK, Ericsson holds separate managed services contracts with T-Mobile and 3. T-Mobile and 3 are both global Ericsson customers.
Emin Gurdenli, Chief Technology Officer for T-Mobile UK, says: "The appointment of Ericsson is another significant step towards realizing our commitment to create and operate the UK's most extensive 3G network. Partnering with a proven and progressive services organization reinforces our intent to deliver superior, high-speed mobile data services to customers across the UK."
Mats Granryd, Managing Director, Ericsson UK, says: "We are delighted and proud to be given the responsibility of operating the radio access network for MBNL. This is an extremely exciting and bold project and we are entirely committed to playing our part in achieving success for MBNL's parent companies."
Graham Baxter, CTO, 3 UK, says: "The deployment of our consolidated mobile broadband network is advancing rapidly. Having Ericsson as a trusted partner operating the access network will be an important contribution to our overall goals of providing a reliable and high performance service."
The contract with Ericsson is the latest of a number of key supplier agreements awarded by MBNL in recent months for the provision of 3G radio network infrastructure and a five-year managed service contract for the supply of high-speed Ethernet connections to 7,500 cell sites.