BT Says EE Takeover Must Not Be Derailed By ‘Self-Interested’ Opponents

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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BT says EE takeover will allow for the investment in future network infrastructure that UK needs and must not be thwarted by rivals

BT says its proposed £12.5 billion takeover of EE will help deliver a converged fixed-mobile network capable of serving the UK’s future data needs and has accused “self-interested” opponents of preventing the investment needed to ensure the UK remains the leading digital economy of the G20.

The acquisition is currently awaiting regulatory approval and if completed would see the new combined company boast the UK’s largest fibre and LTE networks. Some believe this is too much influence for one player in the UK communications market.

However BT and EE say they have invested a combined £35 billion over the past decade, resulting in widespread superfast broadband coverage and the fastest 4G network in Europe. The two firms say the deal would allow for investment in ultrafast broadband and 5G – essential for the future demands of consumers, businesses and the public sector.

BT EE merger

EE 4G CEO Olaf Swantee (1)BT says rivals will have access to its fixed and mobile networks on a wholesale basis, promoting competition and increasing affordability.

“These competitors only want to put up roadblocks, while we want to build motorways for the UK,” said EE CEO Olaf Swantee, adding that its rivals were intent on standing still and “sweating” their existing assets rather than investing in infrastructure.

“A world-leading, combined fixed and mobile, digital infrastructure will sit at the heart of a successful UK economy. The success of the UK in the future will be built on its ability to deliver real-time, data-heavy information through leading edge network technology. Bringing BT and EE together makes that possible.”

BT wants to complete the deal by early 2016 and has successfully requested that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) proceed immediately to a ‘phase 2’ investigation to speed up the process. So far there has only been one official complaint, from CityFibre, which claimed that the deal could have a damaging effect on consumers and the British telecoms industry as a whole.

Strengthening its case

“The world is changing with customers wanting access to the internet on their terms,” said BT CEO Gavin Patterson. “They are spending more time online than ever before and they want the best connection whether they are at home, in the office or on the move. Seamless connectivity is the future and we are keen to deliver the new, innovative services of the future.”

To further strengthen its case, BT has commissioned a report by Rob Kenny of Communications Chambers which states the merger will encourage investment and maintain competition.

“I conclude the merger has the potential to generate a wide array of customer benefits driven by enhanced investment, innovation, efficiency and competition for converged services,” said Kenny. “Notwithstanding the merger, the  UK would continue to be a well contested market by comparison to its European peers, with some of the most pro-competitive market interventions globally.”

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