Pressure grows for UK investigation of T-Mobile and Orange merger

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 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 initiative.

'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.'
Written by Mobile Today
Mobile Today


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