Three UK has won a deal to host a new MVNO from retailer Dixons Carphone, which could help with its proposed takeover of O2.
Dixons Carphone will launch the service over Three’s network later this Spring. The retailer, which has over 3,000 stores, said it planned to offer customers “highly personalised” data plans.
The company has an existing mobile broadband partnership with the UK operator, but Three pulled out of its reseller agreement with Carphone Warehouse in 2013 following a 10-year partnership.
Lynda Burton, Director of Wholesale at Three, said Dixons Carphone is the operator’s biggest MVNO customer to date.
The news comes just weeks after Three’s parent company Hutchison Whampoa announced it was holding exclusive talks with Telefonica about the acquisition of its O2 UK business.
Kester Mann, analyst at CCS Insight, said the Three-Carphone deal would “help smooth the path of regulatory approval” following a similar agreement struck between O2 and Sky last week.
He told European Communications: “I’d expect any agreement for the acquisition of O2 to include a number of concessions, but the arrival of two new MVNOs could help placate the authorities.
“Carphone had already said that it would offer a virtual service and the launch will further intensify a highly competitive MVNO market in the UK.”
However, Mann added that while the agreement would help boost the retailer’s prospects on the high street, it could have negative ramifications for its ongoing reseller agreements with rival operators.
He commented: “This deal helps Dixons Carphone exert more control over its own destiny at a time of uncertainty on the high-street as operators focus increasingly on the direct route to market.
“However, as it has relationships with the three other UK network operators - Vodafone, O2 and EE - there could be a potential conflict of interest between them and its own mobile service.”