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Network sharing saves MBNL partners £1bn over ten years
Building a shared network is enabling Everything Everywhere and 3UK to cover 99% of the UK population with 30% fewer sites, leading to efficiency savings and environmental benefits. The innovative network was made possible by radio access technology that gives each provider dedicated carriers, so each partner can continue to provide services securely and independently.
"Merging two existing live networks onto the same infrastructure on this scale is a world-first. It’s completely transformational. Reducing the number of sites by about 30% will save them each £1 billion over ten years."
Graham Payne, Managing
Mobile Broadband Network Limited (MBNL) is a joint venture established by 3UK and Everything Everywhere, (Orange and T-Mobile merger).It was set up in 2007 so that the parent companies could deploy a joint, nationwide 3G network faster and more efficiently than competing providers. Nearly 12,500 base stations were incorporated by the end of 2010, delivering outdoor coverage to 99% of the UK population.
Pooling the partners’ buying power has also delivered huge savings, with many site rentals down by around 25% on average, according to Payne.
"The quality of the management skill provided by Nokia Siemens Networks, its end-to-end ownership and management of deployment of services has been so good that we’ve kept that work entirely with them."
Brian More O’Ferrall, CFO, MBNL
One supplier delivers all-round solutions
The benefits may be huge, but sharing a network is potentially challenging, with both partners keen to maintain their independence. The deployment of the proven Multi-Operator Radio Access Network (MORAN) concept from Nokia Siemens Networks has therefore proved essential, since it allows a radio access network to be shared with dedicated carriers for up to four service providers.
- To roll out 3G coverage as quickly and cost-effectively as possible while making the least environmental impact
- To meet the rising demand for capacity as data traffic volumes take off
MBNL named Nokia Siemens Networks as the exclusive 3G infrastructure supplier for the network in 2008 in a deal worth £200 million. This was followed in February 2010 by a further £400 million contract, under which Nokia Siemens Networks will continue to optimize the network to meet rapidly growing mobile broadband demand until 2012.
In addition to further 3G infrastructure, this second deal includes mobile network planning, implementation, optimization and maintenance.
- A shared network pools resources and buying power. Nokia Siemens Networks MORAN makes it possible for partners to share their infrastructure and continue to operate independently
- Flexi Multiradio Base Station technology is software-upgradeable to 3G, LTE and beyond. It also leads the market in low-energy operation and is small enough to fit into existing cabinets
- Single NetAct management solution for entire Radio network
Almost all of the network’s sites have now been upgraded to Nokia Siemens Networks award-winning Flexi Multiradio Base Stations. As well as bringing superior energy efficiency, Flexi is small enough to fit into legacy cabinets so that existing passive infrastructure can be re-used. Nokia Siemens Networks carried out more than 1,000 site upgrades per month at the peak of the project.
- 30% fewer sites demand fewer resources and consume less energy, while pooled purchasing muscle delivers 25% savings in the average site rental.
- £1 billion in savings for each MBNL partner over 10 years
- Software-only upgrades help protect MBNL investments by making it easier to adapt the network to meet future demands
“We originally chose Nokia Siemens Networks as the vendor for the network equipment because they had the best MORAN solution.
Only they offered the MORAN capability we needed for the network share and their equipment was also small enough to fit inside some of the cabinets that we were to re-use,” says Brian More O’Ferrall, CFO, MBNL.
“The other thing I’d point out essentially in our relationship with Nokia Siemens Networks is that there’s been a phenomenal level of proactive support and as soon as issues arise we get the support we need very quickly and effectively. So I believe it’s a very strong partnership and we’re very happy to endorse Nokia Siemens Networks for the work we’ve done with them.”