TalkTalk claims Vodafone cancelled MVNO agreement without notice

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Vodafone denies TalkTalk claims to CMA that it is planning to exit MVNO wholesale market

Vodafone has denied it is set to exit the wholesale MVNO market after TalkTalk claimed it had cancelled it’s MVNO agreement in November.

In documents issued to the Competition and Markets Authority as part of its review in to BT’s takeover of EE, TalkTalk claimed that Vodafone cancelled it’s four-year MVNO agreement with no notice, forcing it to switch to O2.

The submission by TalkTalk goes on to claim that Vodafone has also served notice to Sainsbury’s that it will cancel its MVNO agreement as part of an exit strategy.

This would leave just EE and O2 as MVNO providers on the market, if Three’s £10.25 billion takeover of O2 was also approved, raising concerns about competition, according to TalkTalk.

It said: “TalkTalk considers that the proposed merger of BT and EE will significantly lessen competition in the market for wholesale MVNO agreements. The merger will reduce the number of active MVNO wholesalers from two to one, and would thereby make it difficult, or in some cases potentially impossible, for firms wishing to enter into an MVNO agreement in order to provide bundled products including both fixed-line and mobile access.

“We now understand that Vodafone is in the process of withdrawing entirely from the MVNO market. TalkTalk understands that Vodafone has served notice to terminate the MVNO agreement that it has in place with Sainsbury’s, and the agreement it had with Carphone Warehouse is also ending.

“As pointed out above, Vodafone also chose to terminate TalkTalk’s MVNO agreement without warning. A firm with no active MVNO agreements in place (that are not in their notice periods) and which is [redacted], cannot be considered to be a competitor in the wholesale MVNO market.”

The CMA has published submissions from rival operators, who were invited to offer concerns about BT’s proposed £12.5 billion buyout of EE.

The UK MVNO market is believed to have around 100 operators running off EE, O2, Vodafone and Three’s infrastructure.

TalkTalk switched from Vodafone to O2 in November, claiming it would help accelerate it’s quad-play plans. Vodafone expressed “disappointment” with the decision at the time.

The operator has now hit back at the claims from TalkTalk, saying it clarify its position with the CMA today..

A spokesperson for the operator said: ““We have no plans to exit the UK MVNO market and we are informing the CMA of the correct position today.

“Vodafone cannot comment on individual commercial decisions made by its partners but the decision to terminate the TalkTalk MVNO agreement was not made by Vodafone. TalkTalk announced an MVNO deal with O2 and we continue to provide MVNO services to Sainsbury’s and Talk Mobile.”

TalkTalk was unavailable for comment.

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