Vodafone and O2 have agreed a deal to commercialise their shared mobile infrastructure in the UK, with the former’s Vantage Towers subsidiary adding the towers to its European portfolio.
Vantage Towers was created in 2019 with the intention of providing infrastructure services to other operators and attracting third party investment.
The Newbury-based operator spun off its European tower assets into a separate entity in 2019, with the intention of providing infrastructure services to third parties and attracting outside investment. This arrangement excluded the UK, where Vodafone has shared mobile towers with O2 since 2012.
Vodafone Vantage Towers
Under the terms of that sharing agreement, each company assumed responsibility for upgrades and construction in different parts of the country in order to eliminate duplication.
However, the two parties retained control over customer data, spectrum and radio equipment in order to ensure a differentiated service. The arrangement has since been expanded to cover 5G, although each company has retained a greater deal of autonomy in major cities.
Cornerstone now has around 14,200 macro sites such as towers across the UK, alongside 1,400 micro sites such as small cells, increasing Vantage Towers’ European footprint to more than 82,000 across 10 countries.
As part of the deal, Vodafone’s 50% stake in Cornerstone has been transferred to Vantage Towers while both it and O2 have signed long-term agreements that establish Vantage as a preferred supplier. The news strengthens Vodafone’s position ahead of a planned floatation of Vantage in Frankfurt later this year.
“Cornerstone is a great addition to the Vantage Towers portfolio,” said Vivek Badrinath, Vantage Towers CEO.
“Cornerstone is exactly the type of high quality grid we like to own: a number one market position, and two strong anchor tenants with network sharing agreements in place for whom we are the preferred supplier. We look forward to working with our anchor tenants to power the UK’s digital transformation, enabling the roll-out of 5G networks to benefit business and consumers and ensuring greater mobile coverage for all.”