T-Mobile and Orange merger confirmed by EC

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News article

T-Mobile Orange merger

March 2010

telecom mast

The proposed merger of Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile UK and France Telecom’s UK business has been formally approved by the European Commission.

Having previously languished in the third and fourth place by market share, the merger will elevate T-Mobile and Orange to first place in the highly competitive domestic market, and reduces the number of mobile phone operators in the country to four from five.

T-Mobile and Orange said in November 2009 their 50-50 joint venture would give them a market share of about 37%, putting them ahead of current British market leaders O2 and Vodafone.

The EC decision is conditional upon the amendment of an existing network sharing agreement with Hutchison 3G UK and T-Mobile to ensure that there remain sufficient competitors in the market. The other condition imposed on the companies is the sale of a quarter of the combined spectrum of the merging firms in the 1800 MHz band.

The two companies plan to keep the T-Mobile and Orange brands for the first 18 months and then review the strategy. It is expected that Orange and T-Mobile will look to consolidate their existing networks by sharing each other’s sites under group company sharing rights commonly found in telecoms leases.

Chris Hicks advises that landlords with telecom leases with the mobile phone operators should be very wary against further moves by the operators to network share sites which will ultimately lead to further decommissioning of installations throughout the UK.

Landlords should exercise extreme caution when approached by tenants agents’ with requests to share or decommission sites and should seek urgent professional advice.

Various other network sharing arrangements are currently ongoing, Chris Hicks advises, including the T-Mobile and H3G network sharing agreement signed in 2008 and more recently a site sharing agreement signed between Vodafone and O2 in 2009. Both arrangements will lead to further reductions in the overall number of telecom sites through the UK.

For advice on network and site sharing matters, decommissioning of masts and all other areas of telecoms related professional work, contact Chris Hicks on 01858 411202 email chris.hicks@fishergerman.co.uk or Eve Angell on 01858 411213 email eve.angell@fishergerman.co.uk

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