The UK government has made a final order to conditionally approve the £15 billion ($18.8bn) merger of Vodafone and Three.

In a statement yesterday, the Secretary of State approved the proposed merger, subject to certain conditions, including both companies setting up a "National Security Committee" to oversee sensitive work that could affect national security.

“We strongly believe [the merger] will strengthen competition in the UK’s mobile sector and enable a significant step-up in the UK’s mobile network infrastructure,” said Vodafone and Three in a joint statement.

The deal is currently being probed by the UK's Competition and Market Authority (CMA).

Last month, the CMA initiated as expected, a Phase 2 investigation into the deal, noting that it will run until September 18, 2024.

The merger is set to create the UK's biggest telco with more than 27 million customers.

If the deal, which was first announced in October 2022, is given the go-ahead, it will consolidate the UK telco carrier market from four to three, giving consumers less choice, argues the CMA.

The merger will give Vodafone a 51 percent majority stake in the combined entity, currently labeled as "MergeCo," with CK Hutchison's Three holding the remaining 49 percent.

UK trade union Unite has previously labeled the merger "reckless," and urged the government to intervene. It's said that a deal will lead to job losses to Vodafone and Three UK staff.

Last year, Vodafone announced plans to cut 11,000 jobs worldwide over the next three years.

Earlier this week, Three UK Robert Finnegan said that the merger is key to Three's future.

“I believe that merging with Vodafone is vital to give us the required scale to invest, grow, and compete to create a best-in-class network for the UK," he said.