back to article UK competition watchdog provisionally clears BT's £12.5bn EE gobble

BT's planned £12.5bn merger with EE has provisionally been given the greenlight by Blighty's Competitions and Markets Authority. The regulator said this morning that the proposed acquisition, which is expected to be completed by March next year, was "not expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition in any …

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Bob H

      They convinced me to move to EE from my old Orange contract which was amazing, because I needed more data allowance, the service is crap and they really don't care about me as a long term customer.

      I've been thinking about going elsewhere but frankly I don't think there is much out there that actually appeals to me. I would have been Three but their service sucks in my village.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > I would have been Three but their service sucks in my village

        That's odd: Three and EE share sites for base stations, and both have 1800 & 2100 spectrum so their coverage should be almost identical.

        1. Naselus

          "That's odd: Three and EE share sites for base stations, and both have 1800 & 2100 spectrum so their coverage should be almost identical."

          Should be, but demonstrably aren't. Our company mobiles run on EE and my personal mobe is on 3, and there's a marked difference between the signal on each; EE has wide coverage but couldn't pass through a sheet of paper, while 3's coverage is terrible outside the city but in places where I get signal, I could sit in a lead-lined bunker at the center of a coal mine and still get high-speed roaming data.

          I do wonder whether they share ALL base stations, or if it's just certain ones based on local ROI (so share in rural and not in cities).

          1. crarcher

            MBNL

            EE was born out of the old T-Mobile network which was shared with 3 through MBNL with Orange sites decommissioned or upgraded.

            All these years later there are still some ex Orange sites that have not been fully integrated into the EE/Three MBNL joint venture - like the mast across the road from my house! It seems though EE are only now upgrading these to newer 2/4G and not touching the 3G side as then they have to let 3 onto the site as per the 3G network sharing.

            So yes coverage should be mostly the same except for where old Orange sites have never been fully upgraded.

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: MBNL @crarcher

              This probably goes some way to explaining the differing levels of service I'm getting from Three and Orange, however, I would suggest that EE are not using all the mast sites that Three uses. From conversations with EE and Three network engineers, I know which masts my Orange phone and Three phone & MiFi connect to for both voice and data and they are different: With Orange I get good quality 2G phone calls, rubbish 3/4G data; With Three brilliant 3G data but poor voice.

          2. Vince

            Three coverage is for me by miles better than EE when it comes to overall availability and service reliability.

            EE and Three do not share 4G coverage, and there is a difference. Namely that EE claim to have 4G but it doesn't work properly half the time, whilst Three often don't have 4G but the 3G does work just fine and I'm absolutely fine with that.

            EE offer better headline speeds, but in reality it's often unable to sustain it, or offer any reliable video streaming performance so for me, it's worthless.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            A...ha. All of 3's sites are also EE sites as part of the MBNL share, but there are ex-Orange "EE" sites that aren't yet part of MBNL and so not used by 3.

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. flokie

      Best thing EE did for me:

      was to make it easy to leave after the contract had finished. The agent in the retention service promptly understood there was no point trying to keep me as a customer after I gave her 3 or 4 reasons why I was leaving and wanted my PAC code. I'd expected they would try a bit harder.

      With giffgaff now.. not for the faint hearted, but at least it's cheap and 4G is included.

      As for BT, I left them many years ago, pretty much as soon as I was able to. Had I waited a bit longer, this would only have been one more reason to give to the EE retention service.

  2. Blitheringeejit
    Flame

    Grrrr

    "By the same token, it is unlikely that the merger will have a significant effect on competition in the retail broadband market, where BT already have a de facto monopoly which the CMA don't seem to give a flying f*** about."

    FTFY

  3. Nifty Silver badge

    Expect price rises

    At least this will be "good for inflation"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Price Rises

      Except that with three other mobile networks that would just result in people leaving them. It's almost as if competition drives down prices.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As a former BT CEO once memorably said...

    ...what's good for BT is good for Britain.

    Remember, a strong BT is the only bulwark we have against a strong (and strengthening) Sky.

  5. The entire Radio 1 playlist commitee

    Combined behemoth to have beetroot-themed corporate branding?

  6. wyatt

    I must be one of the few that has never had a problem with Orange, having only just moved to EE we shall see about them..

    When my internet was with BT I didn't have an issue either, my parents however have had to escalate their issues a number of times. Deleting their email accounts is BT's latest trick. Before that refusing to investigate a poor connection resulted in cancelling the contract. My parents next door neighbours moved from Virgin to BT and the poor people were given my parents old line.. who would have guessed the fault would move to them..

  7. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Both bit players. Now they'll be a 2 bit player. Perhaps.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Bit players"?

      The biggest fixed line network + the biggest cellular network = "bit players"?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Bit players"?

        He's obviously a 'The Sky's the Limit' fanboi

        (or he might be a T-T one in hiding)

        I won't touch T-T , VM or Sky. Not interested in Quad Play at all so this merger really does not bother me.

        Yes, I'm a luddite because this 3G/4G data thing is also irrelevant as my personal mobile can't do data.

  8. TonyJ

    BT Fibre & EE mobile

    Worth pointing out that both are on business contracts.

    May be a case of getting what you pay for because so far I've had excellent service from both of them.

    Previously I was with O2 for mobile (also business) but post-iPhone introduction into the UK the service offered just kept being cut down ever more. Used to be, for example, if there was a problem with the handset they replaced it next working day. Ok the replacement would be a refurb unit but still..next working day. New one delivered, hand yours over sans battery, sim and accessories and carry on.

    BE Unlimited were my ISP of choice - again on a business contract. Never had a single issue except they didn't do fibre, hence moved to BT (at the time I placed the order the day it became available in my area and they were the only provider). Only had a few issues early on and they handled them well, and quickly.

    I was nervous of going to EE at first - I'd heard and read bad things about their consumer services but they were winning awards for their business services so I decided to take the chance. 50% less cost than O2 and went from 1GB of data to 36GB.

    Three - had a one plan sim for using on their all you can eat tethering. Great when you get a signal but again, their customer service was lamentable.

    Vodafone were just too expensive for everything.

    Ayway...EE and BT so far for me have been absolutely fine. YMMV

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: BT Fibre & EE mobile

      "hence moved to BT (at the time I placed the order the day it became available in my area and they were the only provider)"

      Should of waited a few weeks until the fibre circuits get opened to third-parties and done the deal with EE...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: BT Fibre & EE mobile

        "Should of waited a few weeks..."

        Sheesh - not again!

        You "of" waited? Try "have."

      2. TonyJ

        Re: BT Fibre & EE mobile

        Should "have" - sorry but this trend to should "of" is weird and annoying.

        Why should I have waited? I get a good service that is reliable, performs as described and I have things like UK based support that I can call and next day on-site engineer.

        Or do you mean I should have waited to join the race to the bottom? Pay the minimum, get the minimum but expect the gold star service?

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: BT Fibre & EE mobile

          >Why should I have waited?

          From your original comment, it seemed you were complaining about there being a single FTTC supplier, namely BT. If you had done your research (or been correctly advised) on the FTTC rollout then you would have found out that there is a phased opening of the service: BT, having installed the cabinet etc. get a 4+ week exclusive sales period, after which other LLU operators (eg. C&W, TalkTalk, Sky) and BT wholesale operators (eg. EE, Zen) gain access to the cabinet. You may have wondered why the first sales fliers from TalkTalk, Sky et al were posted through your letterbox nearly two months after your cabinet went live.

          I moved my business mobile and fixed services to EE as soon as they were able to provision FTTC services (February 2015) and not had cause to complain; yet. Hence why I explicitly suggested you dealt with EE given you had moved your business mobiles to EE. As for calling out an engineer, well it is the same BT guy only he is working to an Ofcom regulated SLA, which can mean he gets to me before he gets to you...

  9. paulf

    Interesting point RE: Three acquisition of O2 UK

    "We provisionally think that the retail mobile market in the UK, with 4 main mobile providers and a substantial number of smaller operators, is competitive."

    I can't help thinking that's a slight swipe at Three UK's (HWL) efforts to acquire O2 UK from Telefonica - which would mean 4 operators become 3 (putting aside the MBNL/Cornerstore network sharing aspects). I'll admit I'm reading quite a bit between the lines but they can't fail to have noticed the Three/O2 acquisition, which I'm sure has dripped into this review.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Interesting point RE: Three acquisition of O2 UK

      The full public CMA file on the BT/EE merger can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/cma-cases/bt-ee-merger-inquiry, section 7 of the "Provisional Findings Report" contains some words on the Three/O2 merger. Interesting that the CMA has extended the deadline for publication of the final report to January 2016.

  10. flearider

    why ?

    I was happy with ee .. for everything from bb to mobile ..

    now i'm going to have to start looking again as I hate bt ...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If I were a betting man...

    I'd say Vodafone are next for a merger...

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If I were a betting man...

      Vodafone will buy Sky in 2016.

  12. Adam Jarvis

    People that just pass this through, 'on the nod' with little thought.

    We've just subsidised BT to extend the reach of Fibre out of UK's exchanges into the outer reaches of the UK.

    We're now allowing BT to take over the existing EE's 4G Masts, charge exorbitant per MB rates for measly data allowances that will pass over these fibre backhauls we've paid to install as taxpayers.

    Add to this BT Branded Home Femtocells (or worse a new BT/EE 'active' Femto socket with Antenna) and we'll be charged per MB rates for data, that passes over a consumer backhaul, rented 'local loop' equipment & lines, that we already pay to maintain and fibre that we as taxpayers subsidised to install.

    Data throughput that will be taking much needed capacity away from the existing BT ADSL/FTTC network, causing congestion on networks we currently use for home broadband, therefore fixed broadband service levels will degrade (further) at peak times.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: People that just pass this through, 'on the nod' with little thought.

      "We're now allowing BT to take over the existing EE's 4G Masts, charge exorbitant per MB rates for measly data allowances that will pass over these fibre backhauls we've paid to install as taxpayers."

      I don't think that can be right.

      The subsidies were towards the installation costs of the fibre broadband boxes. It didn't pay for any backhaul. Cell towers aren't fed from fibre broadband cabinets. They use a different network.

      Also, if EE's prices became exorbitant customers would just switch providers.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: People that just pass this through, 'on the nod' with little thought.

      Not that I would ever stand up for BT however you may want to read the below as it confirms that the backhaul isn't taxpayer funded...

      http://www.virginmediabusiness.co.uk/news-and-events/news/news-archives/2011/MBNL/

      That said I find it interesting that the competition commission wouldn't see an issue with the 100million contract being removed from BT's only real competitor in the uk (the only other one with a major fibre network built out to homes) as a competition issue. Heyho!

  13. Badbob

    I'm an oddball.

    Been with Orange/EE since 2002 and always been perfectly happy with them. Not the cheapest but never had an issue with signal, especially now I'm getting 4G at upwards of 100Mb/s inside my house.

    It was always inevitable given DT's desire to raise cash and Orange's surprising lack of interest in the UK market. My money had been on an AT&T takeover though. But I still think mama Bell will be looking at Voda, maybe as a JV with Sky.

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