Orange T-Mobile deal to protect 3

Mobile mast triple play

Mobile Mast In a move designed to appease regulators at the European Commission and to get their UK merger accepted by the end of March, parent companies France Telecom (Orange) and Deutsche Telekom (T-Mobile) have proposed that their combined UK operation would continue with, and extend an existing network share between T-Mobile and 3.

Currently the existing deal between T-Mobile and 3, managed by their 50/50 subsidiary Mobile Broadband Networks Limited will peak in October at 13,000 3G masts. Under the new proposal the deal would continue on to have access to 3000 more, becoming the largest 3G network in the country with 16,000.

Earlier in February, the UK Office of Fair Trading asked for the merger to be formally referred back to itself to investigate competition concerns, a decision applauded by consumer groups. To further sweeten the EU Commissioners and stop the extra months of discussion such a referral would entail, FT and DT bosses have changed their position on keeping all of the 1800MHz spectrum they are currently licensed to operate, now agreeing that up to 25% might be handed back. Vodafone and O2 (and 3) had suggested up to 50% of the spectrum should be handed back. Any of these competitors might still launch a challenge.

When completed the Orange T-Mobile partnership will form the largest UK mobile operator, with more than 28 million customers. Around 37% of the market.