Nearly a year after it agreed to acquire O2, the Irish wireless unit of Telefonica, in a deal valued at US$1 billion, Hutchison  Whampoa’s 3 won European Commission (EC) approval on Wednesday to proceed with the transaction subject to 3’s  adherence to various commitments that are intended to alleviate competitive concerns.  Announced last June, the merger  of 3 and O2 reduces the number of Ireland’s national wireless carriers from four to three.  Upon completion of the  transaction, the combined entity would serve two million customers and boast a market share of 37% that is surpassed  only by the 40% share of Irish market leader Vodafone.  To offset EC concerns, 3 has pledged to sell up to 30% of the  merged entity’s network capacity to two mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) that would offer competitive wireless  services to Irish customers through the combined 3/O2 network.  At a later stage, 3 will divest five blocks of wireless  spectrum in the 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz bands to one of the two MVNOs that would use that spectrum to  build its own wireless network.  3 has also committed to maintain its existing network sharing agreement with Eircom, a  smaller rival that currently ranks as Ireland’s fourth-place wireless operator.  Stressing, “in a context of increased data  consumption on their mobile devices, European customers should continue to benefit from improved services at attractive  prices,” EC competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia said, “the commitments offered by Hutchison . . . ensure that  Irish customers will continue to enjoy these benefits.”  Robert Finnegan, the CEO of 3 Ireland, welcomed the EC’s action, which, in his words, “[creates] new competitive dynamics in the Irish telecom market” and “leaves 3 optimally positioned  to become the number one player by providing the best value and service to our customers.”