Mobile networks Vodafone and O2 have announced they'll be extending their existing infrastructure sharing agreement to include 5G, so they can roll it out faster and cheaper.
Despite being competitors in the consumer telecoms space, the two companies work together where there's mutual benefit, and that now includes ensuring they're both in a good position when 5G starts going mainstream.
The mobile networks are up against BT, which is the current market leader in the UK. It's pretty clear 5G is going to be massive when it starts rolling out en masse, so all the big tech and comms players want to be in the vanguard.
O2 and Vodafone's partnership is called CTIL and has existed since 2012. There's a similar partnership between Three and EE called MBNL.
According to the new announcement, the companies will be giving CTIL more tasks, including allowing third parties to use its towers. That'll be good for connectivity across the country, and it'll be good for O2 and Vodafone's bottom lines.
Ernest Doku, mobiles expert at uSwitch.com, says of the collab:
"It's great to see competitors such as Vodafone and O2 putting their differences aside to ensure the speedier rollout of 5G services.
Targeting a wider geographic area is better still, as some concerns have been raised over whether providers would look to initially target higher-density areas where there are more customers and good existing 4G networks - leaving remote spots to, yet again, fend for themselves.
As we've said before, there is still a large disparity in terms of service provision to different parts of the UK. Any attempts to redress this digital divide can only be a good thing.
It will now be especially interesting to see whether the deployment of these 5G services essentially leapfrogs the rollout of full fibre broadband, the infrastructure for which is much more labour-intensive to install."
Separate organisations working together for mutual benefit? Pooling resources for everybody's gain? Maybe the UK government needs to take some lessons from the phone networks. [Techradar]