All UK network operators are aggressively pursuing new MVNO business in order to grow their service revenues.
Vodafone wholesale boss Tim Stone (pictured) said: "We are seeking to grow aggressively. We are talking to a lot of people – there are four or five big brands we’re talking to at this time."
O2 head of wholesale Phil Crookes said O2 had revised its wholesale strategy, considered conservative, in recent months to keep pace with Vodafone.
He said: "We recognise now our competitors have become much more aggressive, that the market has moved on. So, we are taking a more open approach."
Orange refused to comment, but a source claimed: "Orange is very interested in wholesale. It is striving to secure the right deals and to grow share quickly, in the way Vodafone has done."
Orange is expected to confirm an MVNO deal with ethnic market MVNO Lycamobile shortly.
Meanwhile, head of wholesale for T-Mobile International Ralf Weber said: "We realise our partners have opened up, but we are the market leader and we are very much in hunting mode."
T-Mobile’s new MVNO partnership with Swedish flat-pack furniture chain Ikea goes live today.
3, meanwhile, is expected to announce a business MVNO with distributor EBS shortly.
A 3 spokesman said: "We are open for business. We have capacity for a lot of voice traffic on our network, so the MVNO model appeals to us."
The UK wholesale market is estimated to be worth £1 billion at present, and to grow to twice that by 2012. T-Mobile takes around 60 per cent of the market, principally via its MVNO deal with Virgin Mobile. Vodafone and O2 take around 17 per cent each. Orange and 3 share the remainder.