The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has commenced a formal investigation into the joint venture agreement between telecommunications giants Vodafone UK and Three UK.

The deal, if approved, would consolidate the operations of both companies under a single network provider.

After obtaining the necessary pre-notification evidence and information from Vodafone UK and Three UK, alongside preliminary insights from stakeholders, the CMA is embarking on its Phase 1 investigation.

This review, spanning up to 40 working days, will assess whether the proposed deal could result in a ‘substantial lessening of competition.’ If such concerns arise, a more detailed Phase 2 investigation may be deemed necessary.

Sarah Cardell, Chief Executive of the CMA, expressed the significance of the inquiry, stating, “This deal would bring together two of the major players in the UK telecommunications market, which is critical to millions of everyday customers, businesses, and the wider economy. The CMA will assess how this tie-up between rival networks could impact competition before deciding next steps.”

The formal Phase 1 investigation will conclude within 40 working days, after which the CMA will publish its findings and outline any further actions. Notably, the CMA’s legal remit is limited to evaluating the potential impact of the merger on competition and cannot extend to other effects such as access to personal data.

Data from research firm GlobalData found that by the end of 2023, mobile 5G subscriptions in Europe will reach 216.4 million, or 15% of total mobile subscriptions.

By 2028, 5G subscriptions in Europe will account for 53% of total subscriptions.

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By GlobalData