UK fibre network supplier CityFibre has complained that the proposed BT's purchase of EE will ‘neuter’ the network sharing arrangements it has with the two firms.
As recently as November CityFibre agreed a deal with EE and Three UK’s network sharing agreement JV; the Mobile Broadband Network Limited (MBNL).
CityFibre has recorded its opposition with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) currently examining BT’s £12.5bn acquisition plan.
Nobody from CityFibre was available to comment but the company released a statement claiming that up to 100 UK cities on the cusp of metro fibre rollouts under the MBNL agreement will also be affected if as expected BT shifts fixed and mobile traffic onto EE’s backhaul infrastructure.
‘Hull was the first city called off on a national framework agreement. However, post BT/EE the framework has been effectively neutered and the UK is unlikely to benefit from an accelerated rollout of metro fibre to 100 cities. In a post BT/EE world, MBNL should continue to be able to buy from the provider of best value and choice and not be compelled to buy from BT,’ it said.
Many of BT’s rivals have publicly voiced similar concerns – warning that an expanded BT will be able to exploit its extensive retail and wholesale fixed line infrastructure to improve mobile backhaul and optimise costs will yield an unfair market advantage against which others will find it hard to compete, and bitter than the complex web of existing network sharing agreements and capacity supply deals involving all parties will be significantly disrupted.
Whilst the cash and share deal was completed in February this year, challengers of the deal hope that telecoms watchdog Ofcom will impose concessions on BT which prove favourable to its rivals. Sky and TalkTalk called for BT’s fixed line infrastructure division OpenReach to be spun off into a separate division earlier this month, for example.