The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has requested to further scrutinise the T-Mobile and Orange joint venture plans.
The OFT said last week it asked for additional information from the European Commission to decide whether the Competition Commission, Britain’s competition regulatory board, would intervene.
The OFT said: “The OFT’s initial view, following consultation, is that the joint venture threatens significantly to affect competition in mobile telecommunications in the UK.”
T-Mobile and Orange announced in November its intention to form a 50:50 joint venture which would make it the UK’s largest network in market share terms. The Joint venture would provide T-Mobile and Orange with 37 per cent of the UK market.
Meanwhile, 3 UK has raised its concerns about the monopoly on 1800MHz spectrum the pair will enjoy if the joint venture goes through.
3 UK chief executive Kevin Russell said: “We are concerned about the short and long-term competitive issues which the proposed merger raises for UK consumers and the mobile market. 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 per cent 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.”