BSkyB and Tesco are believed to be plotting to launch as virtual mobile phone network operators.
By buying airtime from existing network operators and repackaging it under their own brands to sell on to consumers, companies can operate as a network without actually owning one.
Speculation is mounting that BSkyB is in talks with BTCellnet to launch as a virtual network operator (VNO) and that Tesco is in talks with One 2 One to do the same.
A telecoms industry insider says: “BSkyB and Tesco are doing deals. The timing and the operators have yet to be decided.”
Two virtual mobile networks already operate in the UK, both on the Deutsche Telekom-owned One 2 One network, Virgin Mobile and Carphone Warehouse’s Value Telecom.
Centrica recently announced a deal with Vodafone to launch its own virtual mobile network in September and other brands are believed to have held talks with the network operators.