Site sharing code signed by 3G operators

6 Mar 2003

Ireland’s third generation (3G) mobile operators have signed a code of practice for the sharing of their infrastructure in the rollout of universal mobile telephony system (UMTS) technology.

Under a process agreed with the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), the objective of the code of practice for sharing of radio sites between 3G operators Hutchison Whampoa Ireland, Vodafone and O2 is to provide a common site sharing framework for all 3G mobile operators and is intended to complement the site sharing commitments contained in the operator’s licences issued last year.

When the regulator Etain Doyle made a call for applications for 3G licences, she said that she would look favourably on applicants that were willing to share their infrastructure.

With the collapse of the telecoms market in the past two years, 3G licence holders in Sweden and Germany began to seek infrastructure-sharing agreements to cut down on the expense of rolling out 3G networks.

In November, the European Commission ruled that telecoms firms can form alliances to develop 3G mobile services without fear of being prosecuted for anti-competitive behaviour. The protection was seen as crucial if manufacturers and network operators are to afford and develop 3G services.

A spokesperson for ComReg told “Part of the licence holders’ obligations is to share infrastructure and it is something they all readily agree on as well.”

Mobile operators in Ireland have long-established procedures in place to facilitate co-operation and site sharing between themselves and with other large users of radio transmission sites. As a result, in recent years the majority of new transmitters have been located on existing sites. Site sharing is also encouraged by existing planning guidelines and recommendations.

Among the topics covered in the code of conduct are legal arbitration, equipment interference, equipment access and maintenance, rates, planning permission and health and safety.

By John Kennedy