T-Mobile to Bid for 3?

NOON -- Light Reading can confirm reports that Three UK and T-Mobile (UK) are in talks about sharing their 3G radio access networks (RANs).

The operators intend to establish a joint venture to hold some of the shared network assets, and would like to have a deal in place by early next year. Details on how the operators will pool their resources, or how much money they think they'll save, aren't yet available.

And now some analysts think that those discussions could lead to T-Mobile making a bid to acquire 3. (You know how one thing can lead to another... first talking, then sharing, and then before you know it, an acquisition!)

Ovum Ltd. analysts Elsa Lion and Matthew Howett write in a research note: "This deal could be part of a broader strategic move by T-Mobile to acquire 3 UK."

T-Mobile and 3 won't be the first mobile operators to strike a network sharing agreement in the U.K. (See Will More Mobile Operators Dare to Share?, Time for a Mobile NetCo?, and Vodafone, Orange to Share RANs.)

For an analysis of networking sharing among mobile operators, check out the Unstrung Insider report, "RAN Sharing: Cutting the Cost of Mobile Broadband."

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading

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