UK - Allen & Overy Advises T-Mobile (UK) On 3G Mobile Network Sharing In The UK
T-Mobile (UK) and O2 entered into a roll-out co-operation agreement to share site infrastructure and to roam on their 3G networks in the UK. A similar agreement was entered into by the companies' German subsidiaries in relation to Germany.
Following notification by the parties, the Commission has concluded that site sharing between mobile operators in the UK does not raise competition concerns when, as in this case, it is restricted to sharing basic network infrastructure.
Although the Commission found that national roaming between mobile operators limits network-based competition in some circumstances, roaming can benefit consumers in terms of coverage and early availability of 3G services. In the present case, the parties will not roam on each other's network in the top ten cities in the UK but only in smaller cities and rural areas. The Commission has exempted national roaming in smaller cities for a period until 31 December 2007; for rural areas the exemption is initially granted until 31 December 2008.
Telecommunications and antitrust partner Chris Watson led the Allen & Overy team, assisted by senior associate Emanuela Lecchi and associate Mark Mladek.
Chris Watson comments: "This is the first international agreement of its kind and its approval by the European Commission is an important development for the roll-out of 3G networks in the UK. The decision sets the parameters for the likely treatment of future network sharing agreements. Mobile network operators throughout Europe are now given guidance on the extent of permissible co-operation."