The MBNL project is the most advanced network sharing integration programme undertaken

Swedish infrastructure player Ericsson has announced that the MBNL network shared by T-Mobile and 3 in the UK now has 10,000 active shared sites. MBNL (Mobile Broadband Network Ltd) was created as a joint venture between the UK arms of T-Mobile and 3 in 2007, with the aim of consolidating the two carriers’ networks into one. The completed project will see an active shared network of 12,400 cell sites.

Ericsson became the managed services partner for MBNL through a deal struck in November 2008.

Those involved in the project describe it as monumental, a world first. They claim it more than answers the sceptics who said such a transformation—an order of magnitude more complex than a shared deployment conceived as such from the outset—could not be done. And they fully expect other carriers to look to implement similar projects of their own, where achievable.

Graham Payne, managing director, MBNL said: “When we decided to merge the T-Mobile and Three networks we had clear targets as to efficiency gains, cost achievements, quality enhancement and extended coverage of mobile data services. This network consolidation and the benefits it brings make a real difference to mobile consumers, many of which for the first time now get access to the internet.”

The next phase of the project is likely to involve some kind of integration with the Orange UK network, following this year’s merger of Orange and T-Mobile’s British operations into Everything Everywhere. Earlier this week the newly created firm announced that customers of the two operators will be able to register to use both networks.


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