LIVE FROM CONNECTED BRITAIN 2023, LONDON: Chief security and networks officer at BT Group Howard Watson (pictured, second from the left) played down the potential impact of the proposed Vodafone-3 UK merger on the company, instead highlighting this could promote competition.

In a panel session with Vodafone UK’s chief network officer Andrea Dona (pictured, second from right) and CEO at Nokia UK and Ireland Phil Siveter (pictured, right), Watson claimed the Vodafone-3 merger does not threaten its position, pointing to his own observation that slimming down market players can have its own benefits.

“In some countries, moving from four players to three players has made capital investment more efficient. More scale, more economically beneficial,” he noted.

However, Watson warned the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is set to have a deeper look into the merger, with the transaction expected to reach a conclusion by end-2024.

“I do think the CMA has some big questions to look at here, and we will be asked for comments I’m sure”, he said, highlighting potential scrutiny related to spectrum.

Customer first
Asked if its proposed merger will impact customers, Vodafone’s Dona promised it “will not change our pricing strategy at all”.

“We are going to keep our strong presence in the SIM-only, low-value and flexible market. Customers today have a whole range of opportunities to choose from in terms of phones and tariffs as UK has more MVNOs than other markers in Europe”, he added.

“We are not going to reduce this with the merger with 3.”