T-Mobile and 3 have announced a 3G infrastructure sharing agreement to cut costs and quicken the roll-out of new services to customers.
The agreement follows a similar deal struck at the beginning of the year between Vodafone and Orange, and leaves O2 somewhat isolated on the network build-out front. It promises to save £2bn over ten years for the pair, through a 50/50 joint venture company.
A reduction of 5,000 mobile network relay masts being operated will be possible through the deal, said the partners.
They said the agreement will help to create Europe's most extensive high-speed downlink packet access network, which is next generation 3G technology.
Although masts and the 3G access networks are being combined, each company's core network and T-Mobile's 2G network will not be shared.
Both parties will retain responsibility for the delivery of services to their respective customers and use their own frequency spectrum.
From 2008, customers from both firms can expect to have access to high-speed 3G services in a greater number of locations than currently on offer, they said.
The joint venture contract runs to the end of 2031.