According to a Bloomberg report(opens in new tab), Vodafone UK and Three UK are in negotiations to complete their merger, creating the largest mobile operator in the United Kingdom.
Bloomberg reported that Vodafone and Three are expected to announce their merger in March 2023. They're said to be actively discussing ways to address antitrust concerns.
Reports indicate the two telcos are also considering how Hong Kong-based CK Hutchison might exit their joint venture.
In October 2022, Vodafone Group revealed(opens in new tab) its intentions to merge Three and Vodafone UK.
Vodafone further revealed that a potential transaction between the two companies could see them combine their U.K. operations, with Vodafone owning 51% and CK Hutchison having 49% stakes. The company noted the necessity of securing a deal to launch a new telecom firm, given the high costs involved with rolling out and maintaining 5G network infrastructure.
Vodafone UK stated, "By combining our businesses, Vodafone UK and Three UK will gain the necessary scale to be able to accelerate the rollout of full 5G in the U.K. and expand broadband connectivity to rural communities and small businesses."
Vodafone stated that the merged business would "challenge the two already consolidated players for all U.K. customers and bring benefits through competitively priced access to a third reliable, high quality, and secure 5G network throughout the U.K."
The Competition and Markets Authority will conduct an in-depth investigation of this transaction before it is allowed to proceed.
On August 2019, Three unveiled 5G services in certain parts of London, providing a high-speed 5G broadband connection. According to the operator, its 5G coverage now reaches more than 400 locations nationwide.
On July 19, 2019, Vodafone officially began providing 5G services in parts of Birmingham and Bristol, Cardiff, and Liverpool, as well as London, Manchester, Sheffield, and Glasgow.
Vodafone announced(opens in new tab) in January that it had become the first U.K. mobile operator to launch a 5G Standalone (5G SA) network.
Moreover, the telco announced that select customers in London, Manchester and Liverpool with Oppo Find X3/X5Pro and Samsung Galaxy S21/S22 phones on Unlimited Max plans could take part in a 5G Sa trial.
Vodafone also revealed it would test network steering. This technology enables a network to direct devices toward the appropriate connectivity (4G or 5G Non-Standalone), depending on the service being used.