Ofcom has pledged to boost UK competition following the Euro watchdog’s decision to block the Three/O2 merger.
The European Commission’s (EC) ruling on the deal marks a victory for Ofcom, who have made a number of attempts to dissuade the Euro watchdog from allowing the takeover.
Ofcom has previously come under fire for its soft touch approach to regulating competition in the market. The regulator has pledged to do its part to foster a sustainable competitive environment in the UK.
The regulator said it would do this through market reviews and spectrum sales. In the past Ofcom has used spectrum auctions to introduce Three into the market. The network recently revealed ambitions to regain spectrum in a bid to once again become the market maverick.
An Ofcom spokesperson commented: ‘We believe this is the right outcome for mobile customers, who have always been our priority. Three and O2 are important and effective competitors in the UK, helping to deliver innovation, investment and competitive prices over many years.
‘Competition must be sustainable, and regulation should support it. We will aim to do so through tools such as market reviews or auctions of mobile airwaves.’
A win for Ofcom
Ofcom has maintained public criticism of the merger throughout the EC’s deliberation period, joined by other regulators in voicing competition fears.
CEO Sharon White has previously attacked Hutch, warning the merger could lead to a UK price hike. This prompted a sharp backlash from the Hong Kong Company, who promised a number of remedies to ease market fears.
However these concessions were strongly rejected by Ofcom and a number of industry figures on the basis that they did not go far enough to protect competition in the UK.