Irish cable services operator UPC Ireland is poised to become latest entrant to the local mobile market, with the news it is close to inking a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) with 3 Ireland. The Irish Times reports that the pair are close to finalising an agreement and that, although neither was ready for comment, it is understood that the structure of a deal has been largely agreed following more than two years of talks. However, the MVNO agreement will not be formally announced until after the European Commission (EC) rules on 3 Ireland owner Hutchison Whampoa’s planned EUR780 million (USD1.05 billion) bid for control of fellow Irish cellco O2 Ireland, which is due by 24 March 2014. Industry watchers agree that any green light from the European Union’s (EU’s) competition directorate, which recently launched an in-depth investigation into the proposed merger, will stipulate that the deal include provisions to allow MVNO entrant(s) to set up shop – to protect competition.
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