EU regulators allowed Telefonica's $31.5 billion acquisition of British operator O2 to proceed after the Spanish operator agreed to leave the international roaming alliance called FreeMove. Other European operators in the alliance include France Telecom, Telecom Italia and Deutsche Telekom. The commission said it worried the deal would hurt international roaming services. O2 is a member of the much smaller alliance, Starmap. Had the deal gone through without this qualification, the EU believes O2 would have had to change its practices to conform with the FreeMove alliance, resulting in higher costs for those not in the FreeMove alliance, particularly UK operators. No international roaming provider outside of FreeMove would have remained in the UK if the deal went through unchecked, except for the fully integrated Vodafone group.
For more on Telefonica and O2:
- see this article from the AP