The European Commission has finally cleared Deutsche Telekom’s and France Telecom’s mobile joint venture in the U.K.–but only after the companies agreed to divest a quarter of their combined spectrum in the 1800MHz band and tweak a network-sharing agreement that might have threatened 3, the U.K.’s smallest mobile network.
The merger of France Telecom’s Orange and Deutsche Telekom-owned T-Mobile will create the largest mobile phone operator in the U.K. with about a 34 percent share of the market, just ahead of current market leader O2, which claims about 28 percent. It will also reduce the number of carriers in the country, which critics argue will reduce competition and raise prices.
Orange and T-Mobile disagree, of course, and claim the deal will give subscribers better coverage and improved customer service. We’ll see, I guess.
Oh, no word yet on the combined company’s name.