Mobile Broadband Network Ltd. (MBNL), the network sharing joint-venture between UK mobile operators T-Mobile and 3, has selected Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) as its 3G network infrastructure supplier. MBNL was set-up as a 50:50 joint-venture between the two operators earlier this year with the aim of jointly building a shared 3G network that would provide near complete UK population coverage by the end of 2009. The venture is considered one of the largest 3G network sharing ventures of its kind. The new contract will see NSN build and operate the joint network on behalf of both companies. Although masts and the 3G access networks are being combined, each company’s core network – and T-Mobile’s 2G network – will not be shared and both parties will retain responsibility for the delivery of services to their respective customers and use their own frequency spectrum. NSN’s radio access solution will replace most of the two operators’ communications stations across the UK and equipment at the remaining sites is being upgraded and reconfigured for higher quality and capacity. The vendor says its solution, which includes its energy-efficient ‘Flexi’ basestations, will allow a reduction in the number of sites in the network by about 30 percent and achieve power savings at site of up to 70 percent compared with traditional 3G equipment. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The joint-venture’s first integrated cell site was commissioned in early February. Since then MBNL claims to have concluded a pilot in the Leeds and Bradford area which successfully validated that the network consolidation technology will deliver the desired benefits focused on achieving nationwide 3G coverage. “We are now moving ahead with the large-scale consolidation of cell sites,” Emin Gurdenli, technology director at T-Mobile UK, said in a statement. “We believe that with Nokia Siemens Networks as our principal technology partner, MBNL will deliver on its objective of creating what will be Europe’s largest HSDPA network in record timescales.”