Vodafone to merge with Three, but will it create benefits for consumers? Reaction

by | Jun 14, 2023

The long-awaited merger between Vodafone and the owner of Three, CK Hutchinson, has been announced today, in a deal that will see it become the UK’s largest mobile operator. But what might it mean for consumers?

In this analysis, Dr Paul Carter, CEO of mobile benchmarking and intelligence provider GWS, gives us his assessment on whether the merger between Vodafone and Three could benefit consumers and improve the overall service provided by the new operator.

A newly published study from GWS has shown that combined connectivity providers (broadband and mobile) offer the best performance for consumers, with Virgin/O2 leading the way, BT/EE just behind and Three and Vodafone lagging. The merger can be seen as an effort to rectify this. 

As Dr. Carter comments: “Today marks a significant moment in the UK telecoms landscape, as two major players come together to enhance their offering. Such mergers have proven successful in the past, particularly in providing consumers with expanded access to both 5G and broadband services. This also brings the number of nationwide mobile operators to three, which as we have seen in the US, appears to be about what the market can handle when providers compete for customers.

In terms of what’s in it for consumers, our latest test results show Vodafone and Three were both lagging in terms internet performance between broadband and mobile services. Virgin Media O2 are currently leading the way in terms of the overall combined connectivity consumers experience, with EE/BT just behind. On paper this merger makes sense for two companies looking to close the gap on competitors who have themselves benefited from combining their connectivity offerings.

However, it remains to be seen whether it will bring success. Three and Vodafone bring together a set of competing mobile assets to bring down costs. Yet, previous mergers in this area were more complementary in terms of filling technological gaps in wireless services, mobile and broadband. Combined providers, as our recent test data shows, benefit because they offer a complete connectivity experience, offering reliable internet services to consumers whether on Wi-Fi or mobile internet connections.”

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