Mobile Broadband Network Ltd (MBNL), the joint national framework organisation set up by EE and Three, is to deploy CityFibre dark fibre backhaul connections to improve mobile broadband browsing performance.
With the first project underway in Hull, the joint venture is also targeting longer-term cost efficiency and hopes to foster more diversity in its supply chain.
The dark fibre – cabling that is already in the ground but is not carrying any traffic – will be used to supply the two operators with their own fibre infrastructure, offering greater network capacity for lower costs.
Both EE and Three are facing increasing demand for bandwidth and massive growth in backhaul traffic between cell sites driven by this demand.
The pilot network overhaul in Hull will also give EE, Three and MBNL the opportunity to be able to trial new technologies. The roll-out will likely be extended elsewhere in the UK under the terms of the national framework agreement.
For CityFibre, the project is the first step in a planned build-out under its "Well Planned City" model, whereby it makes its fibre infrastructure available for use by other service providers.
More on dark fibre
“Mobile operators are among the largest providers of connectivity services for data-hungry UK consumers [and], between them, EE and Three carry about 75% of the data used by UK mobile users," said CityFibre CEO Greg Mesch.
“This framework illustrates a valuable new segment in CityFibre’s Gigabit City model for ubiquitous fibre connectivity.”
EE CTO Fotis Karonis added: “With our customers’ data usage rising all the time, driven on by the rapidly growing adoption of 4G, a more flexible and cost-effective backhaul capacity solution is hugely important so that we can keep giving a world-leading mobile experience.
“This is a completely new model for the industry, set to provide a much-needed change to the economics of capacity management.”