back to article Three owner Hutch lobs sueball at EU over failed O2 buy

The owner of mobile network Three UK, CK Hutchison, has lodged a legal challenge against the European Commission. The Telegraph, which broke the story, says a filing has been filed with the General Court (formerly the Court of the First Instance), after the European Competition Commission blocked the acquisition by Hutchison. …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good to see he's been keeping himself busy since the series ended. What's Starsky been up to?

  2. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    First shot across the bows?

    And this is without the provisions of the proposed trade {spit} agreement.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "the UK’s problem isn’t high prices, it’s poor coverage"

    Excuse me? Really? Any evidence for that?

    1. Andre Carneiro

      Come to my place for a cuppa.

      No bastard phone signal from any of the networks over here...

    2. Sirius Lee

      You can come to my place for a cup of tea as well. I live in a London suburb not some distant location and I regularly have no signal at home.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, just ask some EE customers!

      The UK networks just don't get it, banging on about 4G when there are still places with no, or barely useable 3G. Orange/TMobile/EE are a joke, customer service is a minefield as is their network coverage, more holes than swiss cheese. Customers in urban areas needing signal boxes post "optimisation" so they can use their phones at home!

      Three are great in most areas IF you are outside, customer service sucks though.

      Vodafone/O2 good 2G coverage, woeful 3G/4G.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Vodafone/O2 good 2G coverage, woeful 3G/4G."

        $orkplace has an exclusive supply deal with Vodafone.

        It works great in the main office but coverage is utterly non-existant elsewhere - and Vodafone keep the contract despite noone who actually NEEDS mobile coverage _getting_ it.

        backhanders? I couldn't possibly commment.

    4. MrXavia

      Just take a walk around my way, and you'll see... coverage is terrible, and only 2G when you get it!

      forget hunting for pokemon.... So maybe its a good thing...

    5. whatevs...

      Try using O2 reliably anywhere in London. Patchy at best. 4G rarely.

  4. paulf


    FTA: "Brussels has left UK punters with a choice of one dominant telecoms company, and three “dwarves”."

    In what world is Vodafone a "Dwarf" (Market Cap £60bn)? Or Telefonica for that matter (MC €44bn)? Indeed CK Hutchison is a pretty substantial company (MC HK$351bn). [For reference BT+EE MC £41bn]

    You can argue the toss on the merits of their respective UK network operations but these are not "Dwarf" companies as implied by the article. If Lee Ka Shing was that bothered about EE being "dominant" perhaps instead of spending £millions on lobbing sue balls and enriching spivvy M&A analysts/advisers/lawyers (not to mention the £10bn for O2 itself) it could be spent improving Three UK coverage+capacity and compete EE into touch rather than just trying to enrich himself further by reducing consumer choice so he can do a few more price revisions like the most recent ones.

    [I've never used Three UK, and you may disagree, but their coverage does seem to suffer more gaps than the others. That's probably because they don't have a 2G network to drop back to but it means they should do more to expand their 3G coverage]

    1. chris 17 Silver badge

      Re: Dwarves?


      buying O2 would have given Three the coverage they wanted and all the things you said they should do too. Their problem is that there is no more radio spectrum for them to buy without buying a mobile telco. EE & VF are not for sale, just leaves O2 who's owners can do with the cash & no longer want to be in the UK market.

      1. paulf

        Re: Dwarves?

        Three buying O2 would have reduced the oligopoly from 4 to 3 which would have meant less competition and rising prices for end users. The various shenanigans in the UK mobile industry have shown that 4 is likely the magic number - enough operators to ensure some useful inkling of competition but not so many that they can't build viable networks with sensible coverage.

        Lets not forget Three, as a new entrant, got the biggest 3G spectrum allocation back in 2000. Spectrum and coverage don't have the direct relation you imply - you also have to consider the number of cell sites. More smaller cell sites means the same spectrum can be reused more often which increases capacity but also increases costs.

        Lets say CKH/LKS decided to chuck half that £10bn at improving an unmerged Three UK. £1bn would pay to move the call centres back to the UK for 10 years plus general customer service improvements. That reduces churn and means less spent on acquiring new customers. The remaining £4bn buys a LOT of new cell sites, increasing capacity through more spectrum reuse, filling in gaps etc. If it was spent through MBNL (and thus involved EE) it would go even further.

        My point is if he has £10bn burning a hole in his pocket he should spend it on Three UK not on reducing what competition we have, as what's left only just keeps the four operators on their toes. If his numbers only stack up through a significant increase in his pricing power then perhaps he should sell Three UK to someone else that DOES want to invest in it.

        PS - from what I hear from O2 users, it may have given them the coverage but it wouldn't have given them much more in the way of capacity and even if it did that would soon reduce when Three+O2 went through the inevitable cell site de-dupe operation that EE did when it integrated the Orange and T-Mobile networks. Let's also remember that BT were sniffing around O2, turned their nose up and went after EE instead. Says a lot about the quality of O2 TBH.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't worry - Everything worked out absolutely fine with O2 Ireland's takeover by 3...

    The 3 Ireland takeover of O2 Ireland went extremely smoothly :P

    You don't have anything to worry about at all, as long as you enjoy 3's special brand of bad customer service and a network that talks endlessly about fast data but never delivers it.

    O2 Ireland used to be a very sold high end network that held its own against Vodafone in the business market. Since 3 have taken over, it's all gone pear shaped.

    I have two handsets, one on 3 and one on Eir (Meteor) and the comparison is like night and day. I consistently get >50Mbit/s on Eir and I get anything between 512k and 70Mbit/s on 3 usually fluctuating up and down wildly when it is fast, but more often 3's 4G is way slower than Eir's 3G connectivity.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like