Vodafone and TIM have announced they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) outlining non-binding terms in relation to a potential partnership for active network sharing (the ‘Active Sharing Project’) and an expansion of their existing passive sharing agreement (the ‘Passive Sharing Agreement’).
The parties are also evaluating the feasibility and merits of a potential business combination of their respective passive towers located in Italy into a single entity (the ‘Potential Business Combination’, jointly with the Active Sharing Project and the Passive Sharing Agreement, the ‘Initiatives’).
To facilitate the discussions around the Initiatives, Vodafone and TIM have entered into an exclusivity agreement.
With reference to the Active Sharing Project, Vodafone and TIM intend to enter into an agreement that would enable them to jointly roll-out 5G infrastructure. The Active Sharing Project would support a faster deployment of 5G over a wider geographic area, at a lower cost. The parties will evaluate the technical and commercial feasibility of jointly deploying active 5G equipment across the country, including certain larger cities where each party may wish to retain strategic flexibility and ensure that they are able to meet the needs of their respective customers.
Vodafone and TIM also intend to consider active network sharing for their existing 4G networks, in order to support 5G active network sharing; this may also generate further efficiencies. Furthermore, Vodafone and TIM intend to upgrade their respective mobile transmission networks, adding higher capacity optical fibre cables (‘Fibre-to-the-Site’ or ‘backhauling’). This would enable customers to benefit from 5G’s new features, such as faster speeds and low latency, as well as provide both companies with greater economies of scale.
The objective is to accelerate and enhance the deployment of 5G technology and use network infrastructure more efficiently, both in urban and rural areas.
Vodafone and TIM aim to conclude one or more of the Initiatives during 2019.
Aldo Bisio, CEO of Vodafone Italia, said: “This partnership will allow us to generate significant benefits for our customers and other stakeholders who will be able to enjoy the best 5G experience, made available in a shorter period of time and across a wider geographical area. 5G represents a technological breakthrough that will have a profound impact on society and that requires investment, efficiency and a rapid rollout. This has led us to broaden the scope of our existing successful partnership.”
Luigi Gubitosi, CEO, TIM, said: “This partnership will allow our customers to enter the 5G revolution faster and deeper, while at the same time making the best use of both companies’ resources. We believe that network sharing is key to do more, effectively and better for the benefit of our clients and all stakeholders, in view of the process of change that will be triggered by the launch of 5G in the years to come and that will be paramount for the development and digitalisation of our country.”