Three And Carphone Warehouse Hold MVNO Talks

Carphone Warehouse (CPW) is reportedly in discussions with Three about launching a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) ahead of the retailer’s planned merger with Dixons later this year.

The Financial Times claims the future Dixons Carphone company is keen to explore opportunities around the Internet of Things (IoT) and that a mobile network would enable it to support connected white goods and cameras among other electronics.

It is understoof CPW has held talks with other mobile operators, but negotiations with Three have so far progressed the furthest. Three confirmed to TechWeekEurope that it had spoken with CPW about such an arrangement.

Three Carphone Warehouse MVNO

The selection of Three as an MVNO partner would be curious given that the operator has not sold contracts through CPW or Phones4U since late last year and has not been as proactive as other networks in securing MVNO deals. EE for example has more than 25 such arrangements with the likes of Virgin Mobile and The People’s Operator.

However Three, strengthened by the 800MHz spectrum it acquired in the Ofcom 4G auction last year, is believed to be on the lookout for more MVNO partners and any CPW deal would be its largest wholesale agreement to date.

Another curiosity is that CPW has an existing “branded reseller” agreement with Vodafone for low-cost mobile services, however these customers are owned by the operator, not by the retailer. It is envisioned that this agreement will continue alongside any potential MVNO offering.

Diversification might be key for the future Dixons Carphone as EE is also considering whether to continue to offer services through third party retailers and instead focus on its own retail stores.

Shareholders have recently given their approval for the £3.7 billion deal, paving the way for the creation of a company that will own 1,298 stores in the UK and almost 3,000 worldwide.

Carphone Warehouse had not responded to requests for comment at the time of publication.

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Steve McCaskill

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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