Sky has signed a deal with O2 to use its mobile network to begin offering mobile services in 2016.
The move comes in response to the growing competition in the mobile market, and is the final piece of a "quad-play" puzzle for Sky, as it already offers fixed-line phone, broadband and television services.
While O2 may end up being acquired by Three the deal it has now struck with Sky will remain in place and will not be affected by the acquisition.
Jeremy Darroch, group chief executive of Sky, said that adding mobile to the firm’s mix of offerings would bring yet more benefits to customers.
“Through our partnership with Telefónica UK, we can build on our expertise in content, innovation and service to launch a range of exciting new services and exploit the opportunities for growth in the fast-changing mobile sector,” he said.
The biggest loser from the deal appears to be Vodafone, which had been seen as the most likely firm for Sky to partner with for a wholesale deal. It is now on the verge of becoming the smallest operator in the market, which may force it to make a move into other arenas, possibly by acquiring US giant Liberty Global.
O2 already has some mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) partnerships in place, such as with Tesco Mobile, and O2 CEO Ronan Dunne said adding Sky to the roster of clients was evidence of the strength of its network offering.
“We’re pleased to welcome Sky to our roster of innovative, successful partnerships, through which we help partners grow their offer to customers," he said.
Ewan Taylor-Gibson, telecoms analyst with uSwitch.com, said that while it was clear telecoms firms see quad-play as the future there remain questions about how much of a draw it is for customers.
"Quad play is proving all the rage among telecoms providers, but mobile often seems like the afterthought of these four-way bundles. Many customers are already tied into long contracts so aren't in the market for a new mobile deal," he said.
“The advantage is that all your services are under one roof, making billing far simpler, but if one service isn’t up to scratch, it can be harder to leave."
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