Telenor Sweden and Tele2 Sweden said today they will share spectrum and build a joint Long Term Evolution 4G network in Sweden with an eye to having it up and running by the end of 2010. The timing means Sweden will get LTE around the same time Verizon Wireless deploys it in the U.S. and NTTDoCoMo offers it in Japan. The two Swedish carriers will be equal partners in the joint venture, which also comprises spectrum-sharing in the 900MHz and 2600MHz frequency bands.
Such network-sharing is becoming more common because the costs associated building out networks are high, and because regulations in some parts of the world are making it more difficult to locate a lot of equipment in places where people desire coverage. Telefónica and Vodafone said last month that they would share network infrastructure in several countries; Sprint and Clearwire recently closed a deal to create a joint venture around their spectrum assets to deploy WiMAX.
Other network providers, among them France Telecom, KPN and Vodafone, are outsourcing their networks to equipment vendors. Equipment vendors typically play a large role in designing a mobile operator’s network, but letting equipment vendors run those networks is rare. As carriers consider sharing spectrum and network infrastructure, consumers and regulators will need to be on the lookout for anticompetitive behavior and try to ensure that all areas of a country are covered.