Two of the UK’s mobile networks today announced separate high-profile maintenance outsourcing deals, reflecting a growing trend by operators to attempt to reduce operating expenses and improve efficiency in network operation and maintenance. Vodafone UK, the country’s second-largest operator by subscribers, has chosen Ericsson, whilst Orange UK, the country’s fourth-largest operator, has picked Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) as supplier. The Vodafone/Ericsson contract is a seven-year deal that will see the Swedish vendor provide maintenance and operations for Vodafone’s 2G and 3G radio access networks (RANs). The contract includes the transfer of 350 employees from Vodafone to Ericsson, scheduled for the beginning of May. The managed services deal builds on an existing relationship between both parties; an Ericsson spokesperson told Mobile Business Briefing that the Swedish company is the “predominant RAN vendor to Vodafone in the UK,” being its sole supplier for 2G network kit and the main supplier for 3G networks. Although no financial details of the new deal were disclosed, the contract is another high-profile win for Ericsson’s managed services division. The world’s largest mobile infrastructure vendor has announced more than 100 such contracts since 2002 and leads the market in operator outsourcing. For the full-year 2008, Ericsson reported a 17 percent growth in sales of managed services, and was earlier this week linked to a lucrative US$2 billion deal with US operator Sprint.
Meanwhile, the Orange/NSN award is a five-year deal also focused on the operator’s 2G and 3G network. Around 470 staff are planned to transfer from Orange UK, with approximately 230 joining NSN and the remainder being transferred to a first line maintenance sub-contractor. Separately, NSN also today announced a similar five-year deal with Orange Spain, focused on the operator’s fixed and mobile multivendor networks.