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Mobile broadband providers Vodafone and Three could be set to launch respective takeover bids, as they target expansion in the UK.

Reports suggest Vodafone is lining up a move for Liberty Global's European business - which includes the Virgin Media cable network - as it looks to defend its market position.

The news that BT is targeting a takeover of O2 or EE may encourage Vodafone - the world's second-biggest mobile operator - to take decisive action.

The operator has previously commented on the need to keep up with BT, as the UK's former national telecoms operator re-enters the mobile market.

Vodafone is to launch home broadband and TV services in 2015 - a move that would be made much easier by the acquisition of Virgin Media.

At present, Vodafone can call upon the network it acquired from Cable & Wireless in 2012, but Virgin Media offers greater UK coverage and faster broadband speeds.

Reuters says five unnamed sources have commented on the potential for a takeover bid.

One individual described as being "close to the situation" said a move for Liberty Global is "the obvious one that makes sense" for Vodafone.

"Vodafone need fibre and that is what Liberty has," the source added.

Meanwhile, rival mobile broadband provider Three is also believed to be weighing up a move, as industry consolidation looks increasingly likely.

Reuters says the firm's parent company - Hutchison Whampoa - is considering a bid for either O2 or EE. According to the news provider, the Chinese company could make an offer for one of the networks before the end of the year,

EE's owners Orange and T-Mobile confirmed last week that talks over a potential sale to BT have taken place. As such, the business is effectively up for grabs.

Preliminary talks have also occurred between BT and O2, as the former keeps its mobile options open.

Either way, the UK telecoms sector is bracing itself for a wave of mergers in the coming months, as the battle for customers intensifies.

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