EC approves Orange/T-Mobile JV


Ofcom and the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) are not to press for further investigation of the proposed merger of Orange and T-Mobile in the UK after the operators agreed to make allowances to rival firms in exchange for a swift resolution to regulatory and competition obstacles.

France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom, parents of Orange and T-Mobile, offered to relinquish up to 25 per cent of their valuable 1800MHz bandwidth earlier this month to placate local authorities and fast-track their proposed UK network joint venture in Brussels.

Orange and T-Mobile have also proposed T-Mobile’s network sharing programme with 3 in the UK, which will see the pair share 13,000 cell sites by October, should continue with the conjoined operator business, and that 3 should be able to make use of 16,000 sites with the new merged operator business.

The Sunday Times and The Sunday Telegraph reported Ofcom and the OFT have advised the European Commission (EC) they will not pursue the matter any further, and that the EC could see fit to fast-track approval for the joint venture as soon as this week.

The proposed joint venture, announced in September, would see the pair combine their infrastructure and customer bases, and leapfrog O2 to lead the UK market with around 37 per cent share and 28.4 million customers.