Orange T-Mobile UK merger may “affect competition”
Announced in September 2009, the merger between Orange UK and T-Mobile UK is not yet completed, as it awaits approval from UK authorities.
If all works out the way France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom want, the Orange – T-Mobile joint venture will become the largest British mobile carrier, with more than 30 million customers and about 37% of the UK mobile market.
However, according to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), the proposed joint-venture “threatens significantly to affect competition in mobile telecommunications in the UK.” That’s why the OFT has asked for additional details about the merger from the European Commission.
Depending on the findings, the OFT might ask Britain’s competition regulatory board (the Competition Commission) to intervene.
Another concern was raised by 3 UK’s chief executive Kevin Russell, who declared:
“The proposed merger could lead to a concentration of 84 per cent of the nation’s 1800MHz radio spectrum in the hands of a single company. This spectrum is crucial for the realization 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.”