Three UK & Vodafone UK Merger Unlocks £11bn 5G Investment

Thanks to the Merger, 95% of the UK Population & Every School & Hospital Will Be Covered by Standalone 5G by 2030, Says Robert Finnegan, Three UK&I CEO

After an initial announcement came in June 2023, CK Hutchinson and Vodafone Group have formally notified the proposed merger of Three UK and Vodafone UK to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

The timing is apt, as 2023 Opensignal research has ranked the UK the 39th out of 56 countries in terms of active 5G connections and has found the UK to have the slowest data download speeds in the G7. The merger, which will make the biggest waves that the UK mobile industry has seen in over a decade, is due to significantly improve 5G in the UK.

“We have formally submitted our Merger Notice to the CMA, having worked with them closely through the pre-notification process. We look forward to continuing the constructive conversations now that the formal process has begun,” shares Ahmed Essam, CEO of Vodafone UK. Essam has worked as CEO of the Group’s Europe Cluster – which includes Albania, Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Malta, Portugal, and Romania — as well as Vodafone Group’s Chief Commercial Operations and Strategy Officer before taking the reins as CEO in February 2021.

“We strongly believe that the proposed merger of Vodafone and Three will significantly enhance competition by creating a combined business with more resources to invest in infrastructure to better compete with the two larger converged players.

“Our commitment to invest £11bn will build capacity to meet the exponential growth in demand for data and accelerate the roll out of Advanced 5G across the UK, delivering benefits to consumers and businesses throughout the nation.”

Investment in 5G development

The merger between the two mobile giants will create a new infrastructure provider to offer better network quality to consumers whilst driving significant improvements throughout the UK and wider by increasing competitive pressure on BT/EE and VMO2 to invest in their mobile networks.

It is predicted that seven millions customers will see benefits from the first day of the merger, with more than 86% of the population benefitting from ultrafast mobile speeds —  around double what either Vodafone or Three could achieve on a standalone basis — by 2032.

“By combining networks, Three UK and Vodafone UK will unlock £11bn of investment that will help the UK close the 5G gap with leading European countries and realise its ambitions to be a front-runner in digital connectivity. Thanks to this transaction, 95% of the population and every school and hospital will be covered by standalone 5G by the end of the decade,” says Robert Finnegan, CEO of Three UK and Ireland. Finnegan was appointed as CEO of Three UK and Ireland in March 2020 having been Three Ireland’s CEO since the company’s launch in 2005 and led the acquisition of O2 Ireland in 2014.

“Joining forces will also yield more immediate benefits. From Day One, our customers will enjoy faster, more reliable coverage over more of the country – and without paying a penny extra.

“We are confident that this transaction will deliver significant benefits to our customers, the country and competition, and we look forward to working closely with the CMA as they review our notification.”

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