Orange/T-Mobile merger messes with government spectrum plans

Spectrum refarming

The merger between mobile operators Orange and T-Mobile is likely to come under scrutiny this week as the government is set to make an announcement regarding mobile spectrum refarming.

Today The Guardian has reported that the Office of Fair Trading will call for EU regulators to allow UK authorities to investigate the merger, which would give the combined companies the largest market share in the UK 37 per cent.

The investigation could put back both government plans for spectrum refarming and the deal by months.

There has been an ongoing debate between the government and mobile operators as to how spectrum should be shared out to enabling the widest 3G mobile coverage, fitting with the Digital Britain report.

However, the operators have been reluctant to rearrange ownership and give up any of their spectrum, which saw O2 and Vodafone holding the majority.

Lord Mandelson called an emergency meeting with the chief executives of Orange, Vodafone, O2, T-Mobile and 3 last month to finally bash out a deal once and for all and decide on a cap for the amount of spectrum each company could own.

But the announcement of the Orange/T-Mobile merger has now complicated things even further as their market share would exceed any other by almost 10 per cent.

IT PRO contacted the government department dealing with mobile spectrum to confirm the announcement but it had not responded to our request at time of publication.

We also contacted Orange but a spokesperson said the company had no comment on the issue.

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.