BT: Quality of EE’s 4G network the reason behind purchase

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Telecoms provider says acquisition will speed up its push within mobile, but denies entering the quad-play market is a key reason

BT has said it is choosing to buy EE as the quality of its 4G network will accelerate its own mobility plans, not because it wants to enter the quad-play market.

On Monday (December 15), the telecoms provider announced it had entered into exclusive talks with Deutsche Telekom and Orange in relation to its possible £12.5 billion acquisition of its UK mobile business, EE.

It added the period of exclusivity will last several weeks to allow BT to complete its due diligence and for negotiations on a definitive agreement to be concluded.

Should this happen, Deutsche Telekom would gain a 12 per cent share and Orange a four per cent share in BT.

BT had also been in discussions with Telefonica to purchase its UK mobile business O2, but these talks will cease while the the telecoms provider is negotiating the potential purchase with EE’s owners.

A BT spokesperson told Mobile News it had opted for EE because of the quality of its 4G network and that it already uses it as an MVNO partner, adding it would accelerate its plans in mobile and vie give it “greater control”.

In Q3, EE added 1.4 million 4G customers to extend its base using the faster network to 5.6 million subscribers – the biggest in Europe.

It added demand for 4G continued to grow, with 82 per cent of new contract customers now opting for 4G, a third of which chose the mobile operator’s exclusive double speed 4GEE Extra.

“BT’s existing mobility strategy is based on offering customers – businesses and the public sector as well as consumers – services that take advantage of fixed mobile convergence.

“Our vision is that customers in time will connect to the BT network when at home or within reach of one of our hot spots and will transfer seamlessly to the EE network when out and about. These converged services are based on a wholesale deal we have with EE.

“Fixed mobile convergence is a trend which can be clearly seen in other European markets. For info, it is distinct from quad-play where consumers buy TV services as well as voice, broadband and mobile services from one supplier. There may be an emerging market for quad-play but this isn’t the rationale behind our acquisition (though some commentators think it is).

“Instead, the proposed acquisition is about boosting our current mobility strategy by enabling us to accelerate our plans and giving us greater control. We have opted for EE given the quality of their 4G network, the fact we are already using them as our MVNO partner and the spectrum they own.

“Our plans don’t rely on the acquisition completing but if it does we believe customers will benefit as things will speed up.”

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