Calls for added review of T-Mobile/Orange UK merger

UK consumer groups may hold up the merger between T-Mobile and Orange UK with two key advocacy groups expressing their concerns to the European Commission and the UK government.
The groups, Consumer Focus and the Communications Consumer Panel have called for the UK Office of Fair Trading and the Competition Commission to review the joint venture rather than leaving it in the hands of the European Commission.
In a letter to the European Union competition commissioner Neelie Kroes, the groups said that the investigation was best carried out in Britain "since the impact of the merger would be felt most strongly in the UK".
They urged that the review should not be based solely on broad comparisons with other European mobile markets, but should take into account the particular characteristics of the UK mobile sector.
They also stress the importance of thoroughly reviewing the radio spectrum assets as the merged company will hold virtually the entire allocation of 1800MHz spectrum in the UK.
"UK consumers have benefited from a competitive mobile market and we would be concerned about any reduction in competitiveness," they said. They conclude by expressing concerns that the reduction in competition at the wholesale level could have a negative impact on MVNOs within the UK market.