Satellite broadcaster Sky is the UK's largest multi-channel provider by some margin, and its broadband service is now the country's second largest. But one significant gap has remained in the company's offering, compared with its closest rival, Virgin Media.
For a while now, Virgin has been a 'quad-play' provider, meaning that it offers not just TV, broadband and fixed line telephony, but also provides mobile services to its customers, allowing them to purchase all four services from a single company. But Sky plans to match Virgin's quad-play offering, with the launch of its own mobile voice and data services.
Today, Sky announced a partnership with Spanish communications giant Telefónica, allowing it to use the O2 UK network, in much the same way that Virgin uses EE to deliver its mobile services. Sky says that it plans to launch its first mobile packages in 2016.
Given that we're still a year away from that, it's far too early to be talking about pricing, packages and other specifics that are unlikely to be finalized until much closer to the actual launch.
One thing that is becoming clear, though, is that the landscape of the UK telecommunications market is changing considerably. O2 itself may not even exist in its current form by this time next year, as Hutchison Whampoa, parent company of Three, plans to acquire the carrier for as much as £9bn. And when Sky launches its mobile services, it may have a much larger and stronger rival to deal with in the form of BT, which is currently preparing to buy EE, the UK's largest carrier.