Today the ever so typically government named, CMA or Competitions and Markets Authority has given the green light to BT and EE shacking up together.
For some time it’s been known that EE parents, T-mobile (Deutsche Telekom) and Orange (France Telecom) wanted out of the UK market because “it was too competitive.” What that meant is they don’t squeeze as much money out of UK users as they do at home and they don’t want to invest in their networks. Both had wanted to sell but no one wanted to buy so they ended up merging and becoming EE. (Everything Everywhere, seriously who came up with that?)
Over on the other side we BT. Good old BT we all just love to bits don’t we? It being as amazingly well run as it is once had a mobile operator, back in the day it was Cellnet, then BT cellnet then O2. Then got bored, decided that milking landline rentals was easier than doing this new-fangled mobile thing that was clearly going nowhere and sold it off to Telefonica (Spain Telecom.)
Since that time, time has shown that mobile networks are here to stay and BT, saw that EE as the UK’s largest mobile network (most customers) up for anyone who was interested. BT decided to hit that and offered EE’s parents a fine bounty of £12.5 billion for their fair, yet unwanted daughter.
Being that EE was the UK’s biggest mobile operator and BT is the still de-facto landline monopoly in the UK that was bound to get some attention from outside. Vodafone especially was unhappy about their marriage proposal and has complained loudly. However BT and EE today were given the formal okay by Her Majesty’s bureaucrats in the CMA.
What does this mean for us little people?
In short we don’t really know just yet but you expect changes a coming. The EE brand I’d expect will die shortly and as much as I want it to be called BTEE I’d wager it will be BT or BT mobile. BT is original and inventive like that. Good news for sign makers then. Customers, expect their customer support to basically stay at the same level they are as they both are, erm equally “good.”
Well BT won’t cut prices, I’d expect O3 and Voda to both be cheaper and better value soon.
EE have boat loads of it and BT has some too. I expect that they will be forced to sell some, probably at 2600MHz. I expect that only O3 will be interested as Voda is well set for spectrum and O3, largely because O2 bought almost nothing, isn’t. O3 has no 2600MHz so they will get some for a bargain price.
I expect that the board of Vodafone are going ape poop right now. They have gone from being the UK’s biggest network for years to very shortly being the smallest. In their home territory too, it’s a bit embarrassing for the world number 2. I expect they will want to go to war with BTEE and will start to make use of their Cable and Wireless network more. Maybe a hook-up with Sky, hell they have the cash they might even just buy Sky outright. They might go the other way and try to buy liberty Media (Virgin medias owners) whatever happens I expect Vodafone to be furious and want blood. There is a good chance this well be good for consumers too.
If monopolist BT is given the nod to buy the UK’s largest mobile network with the largest spectrum holdings then it’s almost certain that O3 will happen too. If you didn’t know Three, or rather their parents (Hutcheson Whampoa, the co that founded Orange back in the day) have put in a bid to by O2 UK. It is almost a dead cert that this will now happen. Three as Orange before it, have been the driving force in the UK market in terms of price and data availability. Having three giants tear each other to bits could work out very nicely for end users.
Good thing, I think, I hope. Time will tell but while BT extending its monopolist grasp of the throat of the UK economy is scary stuff I believe that O3 and Vodafone will have to step up things. I think they will want to pound BTEE into dust and they both have great big wallets with which to do it.