Telecoms operator UPC is planning an entrance into the mobile market through a partnership with Three Ireland, which is currently readying a merger with O2 Ireland pending the European Commission’s approval, reports say.
A report in The Irish Times claims Three and UPC have been discussing the deal for more than two years now and that the decision will be formally announced following an investigation by the European Commission’s competition directorate into the O2 acquisition.
Telefónica agreed in June to sell O2 Ireland to Hutchison Whampoa, the owner of Three Ireland, for €850m. It’s believed that the Commission could demand a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) agreement, whereby Three opens up its mobile network for use by another operator for a fee, in order to maintain competition in the market.
The Commission’s decision is expected on 24 March and having an MVNO deal with UPC in place by that time could play to Three’s favour.
Adding mobile to its package will allow UPC to offer quad-play bundles (incorporating TV, broadband, landline and mobile phone services) to its customers – something that rival operator Eircom introduced with the addition of its eVision TV service last month.
Representatives from both Three and UPC have declined to comment on the matter.