Spain’s fourth and fifth largest telecom operators, mobile player MásMóvil and regional cable operator Euskaltel, have teamed up to build a pilot 5G network that will enable the pair to experiment over a shared network and limit the cost of investing in the technology.
Other participants in the experiment include technology giant Ericsson and Promotora de Redes Compartidas, a consultancy set up by a group of European and Latin American telecom managers, headed by Alberto Horcajo, the former CEO of Telefónica-owned towers outfit Telxius, to promote the concept of shared mobile networks.
According to Spanish newspaper Expansión, the network will be open to other operators.
The initiative is also supported by the regional government of the Basque Country, home of Euskaltel, and the city of San Sebastian.
According to Promotora de Redes Compartidas, the experiment is backed by an investment of €11.9 million, with 80% allocated to building the network and the balance allocated to use cases.
Eight use cases will be studied, including mass media distribution and mobile entertainment as well as industrial and other applications, over a 30-month period.
The collaboration between Euskaltel and MásMóvil has attracted attention on the back of speculation that the pair might at some point join forces to compete with market leaders Telefónica, Vodafone and Orange.
Euskaltel has recently ramped up plans to establish a national presence outside its core markets in north-western Spain, while MásMóvil this week announced that it had passed the milestone of signing up one million fixed broadband customers, a doubling of its base in one year.
MásMóvil complemented its broadband offering with the launch of a low-cost TV service in October in partnership with Chinese technology giant Huawei as part of its Yoigo-brand service. The Agile TV offering combines digital-terrestrial channels with pay TV channels delivered via an Android TV decoder from €5 a month. According to a report published by financial daily El Español late last year, MásMóvil plans to expand its offering by adding Netflix and Amazon Prime Video this quarter.