Talks between Three owner Hutchison Whampoa and O2 haven't yet reached a conclusion, but already some of the UK's biggest companies are keen to take advantage of a future merger. After briefly flirting with Vodafone in a recent trial, Sky has confirmed it will become a quad-play provider with the launch of its own O2-powered mobile network in 2016. According to Sky, O2's current owner Telefónica UK will provide access to the carrier's 2G, 3G and 4G services, allowing it to go up against BT, Virgin Media and also TalkTalk, which signed a deal with the operator in November, to offer phone, broadband, TV and mobile bundles.
Today's announcement has certainly been on the cards, especially after BT first signalled it wanted to become a carrier again, nearly a decade after it exited the industry. The landline giant eventually decided EE offered more opportunities than O2, but interest remained in the UK's second largest carrier. With the potential consolidation of Britain's mobile market looming, Sky has deemed now is the right time to expand its offering, in the hopes that customers will add a phone plan to their existing packages.
But spare a thought for Vodafone. Sky initially leant on the carrier's network to offer 200,000 "handpicked" customers access to its mobile services as part of a trial at the end of last year. It's not clear how big the takeup was, but Sky has obviously decided the carrier wasn't the right fit. It's a similar picture over at TalkTalk, which chose to break ties with the operator and migrate its mobile service over to O2's network.
So what does this all mean? Well, should BT acquire EE, we'll have four major providers aiming to get you on one of their quad-play packages. Increased competition will likely encourage better service and lower prices, which is an obvious benefit to you.