Three is currently in the midst of negotiating a merger with one of its biggest competitors O2. A merger would combine to services, technology and customer base of these companies into one mega network that would be the biggest in the United Kingdom with 40% of the entire country’s mobile customers. However, there are fears among customers on both networks about what these changes may involve and how their current services might alter with an impending merger. We have looked at all the information we know so far to give you a thorough breakdown of what you can expect.
So what is the plan?
After the success of EE, which merged T-Mobile and Orange into one super service, Three is hoping to regain its lost ground by performing a similar merger with their competitor O2. Coming together, they would create one of the biggest mobile networks in the United Kingdom with the combined knowledge, experience and technology of both businesses. The merger cost Three £10.3 billion and will provide it with 40% of the UK’s mobile phone customers.
Does this mean I will be a Three customer if I am on O2?
Yes. If you are an O2 customer you will begin to see the Three logo on all of the bills, receipts, etc. you receive. Everything that was previously part of the O2 service will be merged under the name of Three.
What improvements will I see from the merger?
Three’s website promises that 4G will improve by ensuring better coverage around all corners of the United Kingdom. They also promise to create a super-fast broadband network that, by combining O2 and Three’s technology, will make internet speeds faster. There may be other improvements in the future as well. You will also be able to make free calls to mobile phones not just registered to Three or O2 but both.
Will my O2 services change?
At the moment there are no changes to any of the terms and conditions for customers who are currently on O2. Similarly, the customer care service remains identical; you can still contact O2’s customer service department using the link in this sentence. As for Priority Tickets, these are expected to be rebranded as 3Arena. Priority Moments and O2 Money will also remain untouched for the moment.
Is there a risk of price hikes?
This has been one of the primary concerns from Ofcom, the UK’s regulator for TV, radio and mobile communication, as well as many other things. They worry that by concentrating the market (Three would allegedly have 40% of all UK mobile customers) it could lead to price hikes that consumers would be powerless against – even before any of the promised aforementioned innovations are introduced.
So when is this all likely to happen?
The merger was officially announced in the summer of 2015. However, it has run into a snag in the form of the European Commission. They made a “statement of objections” regarding Three’s merger with O2. The aforementioned concerns about how much power one company would have are leading the Commission to consider attaching prohibitive concessions. In short: there is likely to be a drawn out process as Three and the European Commission come to a compromise about what, exactly, should occur in the event of a merger. It means their full plans won’t roll about for quite some time.