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BT: EE takeover will lead to better deals for consumers


BT says consumers will benefit from cheaper broadband, telephone and TV if its EE takeover is approved

BT has pleaded with the UK’s competition authorities to fast track its proposed takeover of EE, arguing that it will increase competition. The company’s biggest landline and broadband provider wants to buy the country’s biggest mobile network for £12.5 billion, with only the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) standing in its path. 

BT argues that, contrary to what some of its competitors argue, the proposed takeover would boost competition in both the fixed line and mobile markets, not diminish it. BT rather disingenuously argues that the number of UK mobile networks will remain at four, although the proposed Three and O2 merger will reduce that number to three. 

BT also waves away concerns that other providers will be disadvantaged because EE will get cheaper access to bandwidth on BT’s core network. BT argues that “the ability of BT’s landline and mobile rivals to compete with BT using its arm’s-length Openreach network will be unaffected by the acquisition”.

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The telecoms giant further argues that the deal will give consumers a greater choice of “quad-play” providers – companies offering fixed-line telephone, mobile, broadband and television deals. “BT’s presence will lead to greater competition and better deals,” it claims. Virgin Media and TalkTalk are currently the only other major quad-play providers, although Sky is launching its own mobile services next year, allowing the Murdoch-owned company to offer all four services as well. 

One way in which the BT/EE deal almost certainly won’t be good for consumers is in customer service. The latest Ofcom figures confirm that either BT or EE are the most complained about providers for fixed line telephones, mobile, broadband and television.

BT is urging the CMA to skip the first phase of its investigation – where straightforward mergers would normally be approved – and move straight to the detailed probe required in phase 2. “This is to allow the CMA efficiently to consider any complex issues in depth without delay, and offers a shorter end-to-end review period compared to the CMA’s usual processes,” BT states. 

Still, BT says it now doesn’t expect the merger to be complete until March 2016. 

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