TalkTalk has urged the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to 'seriously reconsider' its provisional approval of the BT/EE merger.
The MVNO was joined by mobile heavyweights to outline arguments against the BT/EE deal in response to the CMA’s provisional approval of merger, which took place earlier this month.
The CMA’s decision was based on that fact that it would not result in a significant lessening of the competition. However the latest submissions from Vodafone, Sky, The Federation of Communication Services (FCS), O2 and TalkTalk strongly refute this.
The MVNO claims that a combined BT/EE will have the customers and infrastructure to lock competition out of the mobile market, something which the CMA has previously stated it found no evidence of.
TalkTalk’s submission said: ‘A combined BT/EE will have both the means and the motive to permanently lock future competition out of the market. The CMA has a reasonability to seriously reconsider the impact of its decision. With 30 years competition at stake, nothing less than full certainty should suffice.’
Sky took strongly disagreed with the CMA’s decision, which it claims went against the ‘considerable’ amount of evidence gathered by the industry to show the impact the merger will have on competition in mobile. Vodafone, O2 and the FCS shared Sky’s concern, all reiterating the merger will significantly lessen competition in the market.
These concerns have previously been slammed by the heads of BT and EE, who both welcomed the CMA’s preliminary thumbs up, claiming the merger will be good for UK businesses and will not affect competition in the market, a view shared by UK regulator Ofcom.
The debate over the BT/EE merger took a political twist earlier this month when Westminster came under pressure to intervene. The Phone Co-op penned an open letter to Prime Minister David Cameron to urge him to take a ‘closer look’ at the merger approval.
Ed Vaizey, minister of State for Culture and Digital Economy, was also dragged into the debate as International MVNO Association joined TalkTalk, Vodafone and the FCS in voicing concerns.
The waiting game
Any opinion from Parliament would have to be expressed before Christmas, as the deadline for those with concerns about the BT/EE merger closed last week on November 19. The final deadline for all submissions will come at the beginning of next month.
The regulator’s final decision on the merger is likely to be made early 2016, as anticipated by O2 CEO Ronan Dunne, who told Mobile: ‘We anticipate the preliminary approval will become final approval, subject to any objections that may arise, around the January/ February time frame.’