TalkTalk has slammed the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) for its decision to approve the BT/EE merger.
The CMA gave BT’s takeover of EE unconditional approval earlier this morning, in a move that TalkTalk has branded ‘dangerous’.
The MVNO has publically denounced the takeover of the UK’s largest mobile network, previously appealing to the CMA to reconsider when it granted preliminary approval of the deal last year.
TalkTalk has now described the new business as one that will be ‘even more dominant’.
‘We are disappointed,’ a spokesperson said, ‘although not surprised, that the CMA has waived through the BT/EE merger, even though the new entity will be even more dominant than it was before privatisation 30 years ago.
‘It is dangerous that the regulator has looked at this merger in isolation, given the unprecedented levels of consolidation taking place in the wider telecoms industry. The UK has long been one of the most competitive markets in Europe, but if the Three/O2 merger also goes through, this would end. Indeed, if the experience of other European markets such as Ireland and Austria is any guide, moving from four to three mobile providers will lead to price increases of 25% or more.’
One of the key issues that has surrounded the merger debate was the lack of competition a new BT/EE entity would bring to mobile. TalkTalk believes that the merger will significantly reduce disruption in the market, naming the regulatory thumbs up as ‘the first step towards a stagnant digital future’.
A spokesperson continued: ‘As the CEO of Ofcom recently put it, “competition, not consolidation, drives investment and delivers low prices”. However, BT will now control over 45% of the UK’s spectrum and 40% of the consumer telecoms market, while a combined Three/O2 would have 40% of the mobile market.
‘Three’s entry into the market 16 years ago was designed to spur competition and drive down prices – a role it fulfilled magnificently. Now it will become the incumbent, with a greater incentive to protect market share instead of driving market disruption.
‘Thanks to a thriving, competitive telecoms market, UK consumers enjoy some of the fastest speeds and lowest prices in Europe. There is a real risk that today’s announcement is the first step towards a slower, stagnant digital future.
Read what the CMA's decision means for the mobile market here.