The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is concerned that the Three and Vodafone merger announced last year could lead to a “significant lessening of competition” and could conducted a thorough investigation in the deal. Three years after Virgin Media’s merger with O2, Three and Vodafone have revealed their intention to enter into a joint venture agreement that will remove a stand-alone mobile network from the choice of consumers in the region. i’m going

The CMA regulators apparently launched a preliminary investigation into their proposed deal back in January and identified potential problems that could arise from combining two of the UK’s four remaining mobile network operators. These issues include the possibility that a merger could lead to higher prices and lower quality of service, as competition generally helps keep prices low and forces operators to make investments designed to improve the quality of their network. The CMA is also concerned that having fewer networks could affect the ability of mobile virtual network operators to negotiate the best possible deals for their customers.

When the two companies announced the merger in 2023, they said that together they would “have the scale to deliver a best-in-class 5G network” and open up “new opportunities for businesses across the UK. But CMA regulators say their claims “need more detailed assessment”. They have now given the companies five working days to respond to their concerns with “meaningful solutions” or they will proceed to conduct further investigation.

In 2015, Three also attempted to buy O2 for £10.25 billion ($12.9 billion), but the CMA and European Commission blocked the purchase after concluding it would reduce competition and lead to higher prices. However, the CMA approved the joint agreement between O2 and Virgin Media, a landline, cable and broadband operator, after finding that these same concerns were unfounded.