Clearing the way for 3G network sharing

The European Commission is looking favourably on 3G network sharing agreements between T-Mobile and MM02 regarding the networks that they are building in Germany and in the UK.

The European Commission is looking favourably on 3G network sharing agreements between T-Mobile and MM02, regarding the networks that they are building in Germany and in the UK.

The Commission’s analysis of the two deals, still subject to third-party comment, is that the cost savings anticipated from the sharing of the 3G network should lead to quicker network roll-out and competition, which will benefit consumers without leading to undue restraints on network competition.

The third generation of mobile communications (3G) will combine wireless mobile technology with high data transmission capacities. 3G systems promise access to Internet services specifically tailored to meet the needs of people on the move, via multimedia applications using image, video, sound as well as voice.

Nearly all EU Member States have awarded 3G licences for mobile services and networks, most of which were purchased through auctions. But this is the first time that the Commission has had to scrutinise 3G network-sharing agreements in the framework of the EU competition rules.

In the agreements, T-Mobile and MMO2 have agreed to share sites (‘site sharing’) and provide one another with national roaming facilities. The agreements also provide for the sharing of the radio access network (‘RAN’) but the Commission has made no comment on this aspect of the deal until the operators decide whether or not to proceed with it.

Before taking a final decision, the Commission has published a summary of the agreements in the EU’s Official Journal inviting interested parties to comment.

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