Vodafone and O2 today said they will consider a sale of their joint phone mast venture as they look to expand the partnership ahead of the rollout of 5G.
The two telecoms firms said they had entered into a non-binding agreement to extend their existing network sharing partnership CTIL, which owns and manages phone masts, to help deploy 5G in the UK.
As part of this, the firms said they plan to devolve more activities to the 50:50 joint venture and allow third party tenants to use the infrastructure.
“In that context, the parties will explore a potential monetisation of CTIL after the new arrangements have been finalised,” the companies said.
Vodafone chief executive Nick Read has previously said the company was considering selling its mobile masts in a bid to reduce debts of €31bn.
The firms said they will look to extend network autonomy in large cities by using separate radio equipment on roughly 2,5000 sites, which represents around 15 per cent of sites outside London.
CTIL, formerly known as Cornerstone, was founded in 2012 to help the two firms cut costs by sharing network space. O2 and Vodafone are competing with BT-owned EE and Three to launch 5G in the UK.
Mark Evans, chief executive of O2 parent company Telefonica UK, said: “I'm excited by the potential of these plans to meet the future needs of our customers while delivering value for our business.”
Vodafone UK chief executive Nick Jeffery added: “We believe that these plans will generate significant benefits for our business and our customers as we move into the digital era of connected devices, appliances and systems on a mass scale.”