Rivals call for OFT to investigate T-Orange merger

Rivals call for OFT to investigate T-Orange merger

The Orange/T-Mobile merger is facing delays after rival operators 3, Vodafone and O2 called for the Office of Fair Trading to investigate the deal.
The news comes as Orange and T-Mobile prepare to register the merger for the approval of the European Commission. Their UK rivals argue that the proposed merger must be investigated by UK authorities as well as the European Commission to protect the interests of UK consumers.
UK operators are also concerned that any merger will result in the new entity owning a disproportionate and uncompetitive amount of 1800 MHz spectrum.
A 3 spokesman said: 'This planned merger should be reviewed in the UK.  It is a merger between two UK companies and will have a significant impact on the UK mobile market.'
He said that the allocation of spectrum could impact on current network sharing agrements, adding: 'A concentration of 1800 MHz spectrum in the hands of one entity will distort the development of a competitive mobile broadband market in the short and medium term.  The combined entity should be required to release a significant amount of 1800 MHz spectrum to address this issue.'
O2 also pitched in this week. An O2 spokeswoman said: 'The proposed merger of Orange and T-Mobile and the resulting concentration of 1800 MHz spectrum will distort the market for fourth generation LTE services. It is a significant competition issue with serious implications for UK consumers, the Government’s Digital Britain agenda, and future spectrum auctions. We therefore believe the Office of Fair Trading should request for the merger to be reviewed in the UK .'

Vodafone also called for a UK-based investigation into the merger. A spokeswoman said: 'The UK operators' spectrum holdings need careful review to ensure that competition is safeguarded and we believe that the UK authorities are best placed to investigate this.'
Analysts said the operators' opposition was not surprising. Eddie Murphy, analyst at Priory Consulting, said the merger would drive 'a coach and horses' through the original spectral agreement.' He added: 'The other operators must be very concerned as the competitive environment was originally set up with a spectrum allocation reflecting the existence of five players in the market, so if two operators now merge into one it will give that merged entity a significant spectral advantage.'

Written by Mobile Today
Mobile Today


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