Vodafone, Carphone Warehouse kiss and make up

Vodafone, the world’s biggest carrier by revenues is back together with UK retailer Carphone Warehouse after a three year split, as it tries to boost its share of the UK market.

On Thursday, the UK-based operator said that from July 7, consumers would be able to sign up for mobile phone contracts and mobile broadband as well as prepay offers.

Vodafone announced a shock decision to sell monthly contract mobile phones only through Carphone rival Phones4U in late 2006. At the time it was thought the company was simply trying to reduce costs in a market where profits from voice calls are in decline. Carphone continued to sell prepay packages after it lost the postpay deal, however.

Perhaps to keep Phones4U sweet, Voda has also extended its agreement with that retail outfit and will boost its offerings by allowing Phoes4U to sell Vodafone mobile broadband connections.

Of late, the rumour mill has identified Vodafone as a potential suitor for T-Mobile’s floundering UK operation, adding the Big V to a list already featuring Orange and 3 UK.

Consolidation in the mature UK market has long been expected, and a goodwill writedown of €1.8bn for the German-owned carrier in the first quarter fuelled speculation that T-Mo is looking to offload its UK operation.

In a market with more than 125 per cent penetration by the end of March, 2009, O2 UK is the market leader with over 28 per cent market share, while Orange, Vodafone and T-Mobile all hover around the 21 per cent mark. 3 on the other hand, which has also been identified as a good fit partner for T-Mobile UK, lags behind with just over six per cent of the market.

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