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T-Mobile and 3 UK Build Europe's Largest Shared 3G Network

By Anil Sharma, TMCnet Contributor

T-Mobile UK and and 3 UK are on course to complete their groundbreaking joint network infrastructure program by the end of 2010.

Officials with T-Mobile (News - Alert) claimed that once completed, it will be Europe's largest shared network and will offer smartphone and dongle customers the biggest 3G coverage in the UK, along with excellent levels of connection coverage and performance.

Company officials said that the HSDPA 3G network already offers outdoor coverage to more than 90 percent of Britain's population. By the end of this year, the network coverage will be expanded to more than 98 percent of the population.

In December 2007, T-Mobile UK and 3 UK pooled their 3G network infrastructure in a 50:50 joint venture company, Mobile Broadband Network Ltd. (MBNL).

The purpose was to be able to create Britain's best 3G network more rapidly and more efficiently than either party could do alone.

The resulting shared network requires fewer masts, consumes less energy and provides customers with a superior mobile broadband service.

Today, T-Mobile and 3 UK are building Europe's largest shared network in record time.

According to company officials, MBNL has already consolidated more than 7,000 sites out of a total of over 12,500 T-Mobile UK and 3 UK mast sites due to be brought together by October this year.

When completed, the integration program will also mean more than 3,000 redundant sites will have been switched off.

Reinforcing the network's capacity, a new contract worth over Us $ 616 million has been agreed between MBNL, on behalf of T-Mobile UK and 3 UK, and Nokia Siemens Networks.

Company officials said that this will include the provision of 3G radio network infrastructure, mobile network planning, implementation, optimization and maintenance. The provision of equipment and services is already underway.

 "Smartphone and mobile laptop data traffic growth in the UK has been unprecedented, and every sign is it will continue growing fast. With Nokia Siemens (News - Alert) Networks, we are confident of providing the UK's most smartphone friendly, high-speed 3G network to more people in the UK than any other operator, delivering exceptional services to both T-Mobile UK and 3 UK subscribers,"  said Graham Payne, managing director of MBNL, in a statement.

Emin Gurdenli (News - Alert), technical director at T-Mobile UK said that as high-speed mobile broadband becomes increasingly adopted for fast, simple Internet access wherever one is, network performance becomes an increasingly important competitive differentiator.

Gurdenli said that the growth in mobile broadband usage clearly provides challenges for networks.

"They are challenges we have anticipated and intend to keep on anticipating with our further investment in technology and services," he said.

Graham Baxter, chief technology officer at 3 UK said that the company believes that with Nokia Siemens Networks (News - Alert) as principal technology partner, MBNL will deliver on its objective of creating what will be Europe's largest HSDPA network in record timescales to quickly enable the best customer experience.

Steve Glanville, head of the T-Mobile UK and MBNL customer team at Nokia Siemens Networks said that as operators across the world strive to realize the opportunities offered by mobile broadband, they also face major challenges related to costs and efficiency.

"We have a strong existing relationship with T-Mobile and 3 UK, and are committed to helping them deliver their growth objectives. We are helping them simplify their network, meet the ever increasing consumer demand for capacity, and realize cost savings," said Glanville.

Nokia Siemens Networks is a major player in network consolidation solutions, and this contract further strengthens this position.

Anil Sharma is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Anil's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Alice Straight