We always knew it was going to prove controversial, but it looks like the T-Mobile and Orange UK merger is set to get the go ahead.
The Times reports that the European Commission is happy to fast track the deal after initially meeting opposition from the Office of Fair Trading, industry watchdog Ofcom and rival networks. Why? According to The Times:
"Orange and TMobile (sic) have agreed to give up some bandwidth, prompting both the OFT and Ofcom to tell the European Commission they are happy for it to rule on the deal."
The meat on this statement is made up of two major parts. Firstly, the duo will give up one quarter of their 1,800MHz bandwidth so as not to close our competitors. 1,800MHz is vital as it is able to send and receive data at much faster rates than 850/900MHz, though it doesn't cover wide areas as easily as these two lower bands. Secondly, the duo have provided assurances to 3 that its network-sharing agreement with T-Mobile won't be compromised - something that would have left the UK's smallest telco at a significant disadvantage.
So as we stand the EC now has until 1 March to refer the inquiry to UK authorities, but that is unlikely to happen. The combined T-Mobile/Orange business will become the leading network in the UK with a whopping 37 per cent market share. This compares to O2's 27.7 per cent and Vodafone's 24.7 per cent, 3 has approximately eight per cent.
Let the fallout begin!