2/4/2010 11:59:00 AM
Pressure grows for UK investigation of T-Mobile and Orange merger
Pressure continues to grow for a UK investigation into the
proposed T-Mobile and Orange merger, with consumer groups and
rivals supporting the Office of Fair Trading's (OFT) request to
examine the JV.
The OFT announced yesterday (3 February) that it had made a
request to the EC to refer the UK aspects the proposed joint
venture between the third and fourth largest UK operators to the
UK regulation authorities.
Which?, Consumer Focus and moneysupermarket.com have openly
praised the OFT for its calls.
All of the parties said the most important aspect of the merger
is the impact I will have on UK consumers.
Consumer Focus deputy chief executive, Philip Cullum, said: 'We
welcome the OFT's decision to ask for a referral. The impact of
the proposed merger would be felt most in the UK so it is
important that this is scrutinised by domestic regulators closer
to the UK mobile sector.
'Any review of this merger must look closely at its impact on
consumers. Consumers in the UK have benefited from a competitive
mobile market in recent years and we would be concerned about any
reduction in competition and choice.'
Which? chief executive, Peter Vicary-Smith, reiterated the call
for a UK investigation. He said: 'This merger will clearly have a
huge impact on the mobile market, since it will form the biggest
mobile operator in the UK and bring the number of networks down
to just four. We don't believe the deal should go ahead unless
the OFT and Competition Commission are satisfied there will be no
detriment to UK consumers.'
Rival network 3 has also called for a UK investigation. 3 CEO,
Kevin Russell, said that the UK's number five operator is
concerned about short and long-term competitive issues, and
raised concerns about the 1800mhz spectrum.
He said: 'We believe that the OFT is right to call for the merger
to be scrutinised where it matters most, the UK. The proposed
merger could lead to a concentration of 84% of the nation's
1800mhz radio spectrum in the hands of a single company. This
spectrum is crucial for the realisation of the Digital Britain
'For the merger to take place without significant harm to
consumers and competition we believe the merged operator should
be required to release at least a third of the 1800mhz spectrum
it currently leases.'