back to article EU General Court tears up ban on Three slurping O2. Good thing the latter's not set to merge with Virgin Media, eh?

You can file this one under: "Better late than never." The General Court of the European Union has annulled an earlier European Commission ruling blocking a merger between O2 and Three on competition grounds, following an appeal from the latter. The initial prohibition from 11 May 2016 was on the grounds that reducing the UK …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just as well

    Three netwowrk has gone pants past 2 years with no investments in cells/masts. Their postage stamps sized token 5G launches are a joke and insult . They have not invested in new towers/Microcells yet (needed for 5G). Been sitting on their paid spectrum holdings for nearly 4 years ,so not sure they would have invested in infrastructure anyways. They wanted to ride on the O2 infrstructure.(what with the bill to pay for O2 acquisition).

    Their whole top management team has been sacked/resigned recently. They aslo love the Huawei shenanigans and Covid excuses to not do anything, except pay lip service to customers.

    Might as well shut shop or sell themselves to any takers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just as well

      I think that depends where you are - Three network gives the best speeds in my area and O2 is the worst (though Vodafone challenges). Three have upgraded all the sites around me since the merger was blocked, and have added at least one new one. Now if they'd just bring their website & online services into this decade....

      1. Philippe

        Re: Just as well

        Are you in Bedfordshire by any chance.

        O2 at home is pants, my son on Three gets crazy speed.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Just as well

      "They have not invested in new towers/Microcells yet (needed for 5G)."

      Probably the right decision at the moment. Nothing built, nothing burnt.

      1. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: Just as well

        Probably the right decision at the moment. Nothing built, nothing burnt.

        That almost cost me a keyboard, have an upvote.

  2. tip pc Silver badge

    Huawei flip flop doesn’t help

    If government could make its mind up once and for all telcos like three could get on with 5g.

    Is there anything to stop Nokia, Ericsson, Samsung from licensing Huawei tech, commission Huawei to build for them and then sell to phone companies?

    Technically not Huawei but realistically it is.

    Chinese firms started 5g research way before others did so hold a huge patent portfolio of necessary technologies, I understand politically pressuring China Is the current game but when Huawei etc side step this the west will have egg on their faces.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Huawei flip flop doesn’t help

      But that would be a massive climb down for those companies to rely on licensing the tech from Huawei and in reality they could build the tech themselves it is just one step behind Huawei and would be much more expensive anyway.

      Also they would risk getting their own kit banned as well due to using Chinese technology - the fact that Huawei already has to operate out of a building in the UK shared by the security services who check all their code and tech before release doesn't mean that by passing it through the hands of a Finnish or South Korean company will make it 'safer'.

      Also why would Huawei wish to compromise their IP and tech to a rival company, we all know how bad the west is for stealing trade secrets and IP.

      I think Huawei would be better creating a separate entity in 'the West', with a different name, which is under no control of the the parent company for hiring, firing, marketing, decisions etc but licences it's tech and code which is all then independently checked and accountable to the required security standards in the areas they operate.Profits could still flow back to the parent company but no influence could flow the other way.

  3. xpz393

    Vodathree UK

    You read it here first.

    1. G R Goslin

      Re: Vodathree UK

      I sincerely hope not. I left Voda three times, for their appaling customer service. The last time to go to Three, with whom, all my customer service contacts have been totally satisfactory. Anything which risks being ragged back to Voda's characteristic level of customer did-service appalls. me.

      1. ivan5

        Re: Vodathree UK

        Are they so bad over there in the UK that you have to keep on contacting customer service?

        In all my time with Free (in France) I have only contacted them 4 times - three times to get an extra sim card and phone number and once to change sim card to nano sim. All only a few minutes over the internet - took longer to log in than to do business.

        1. paulf

          Re: Vodathree UK

          I've been with Voda since 2007 after Orange (as was) pissed me off so much (despite being a customer of 10 years) I left them.

          I've just checked and the last times I called Voda were three years ago (plan upgrade so relatively good service as they were selling something), another plan upgrade a year before that, and tech support to sort out the Wifi calling on my Jesus Mobe in Dec 2015. I think I was routed to some guy in Egypt but not only did he fix the problem, but I fell off my chair when he actually called me back as promised later that day to check the problem was resolved.

          I don't doubt lots of people have had shitty experiences with Voda, so I'm rather grateful I've not faced the same perhaps because I don't have cause to call them that often.

        2. G R Goslin

          Re: Vodathree UK

          The short answer to that is "YES" I had a problem with an item being delivered, which did not arrive. I contacted Voda in regard to this. It took seven weeks before the problem was finally resolved, and required almost daily emails and phone calls, since if I did not email, or call, nothing was done. Ever. I thought this was grounds for a formal complaint. This was almost exactly the same, but this time it took seven MONTHS. This time it was not resolved, I simply gave up. In that seven months, I sent emails, letters, letters by recorded delivery. at the ned of the seven months it was apparent that my letters, etc had not received any attention whatsoever.The snag was that the complaint was of poor Customer Service, and my complaint was passed to Customer Service for action.

  4. DenTheMan

    Pay More Everywhere

    It gets to sound a nice and vosy threesone where the customer really gets to pay.

  5. hmmmhmmm

    In case you get lost in the text or just can't be bothered to read it:

    This is(was) essentially a disagreement between the two pillars of the 4th Reich: Big business and Bureaucrats.

    Anyway, the EU thought that less companies = less competition, completely ignoring the fact that technology changes and ultimately they are competing on new products(handsets,modems) and services(5g,burning poles) that require lots of innovation and investment.

    So just before they became irrelevant they decided to undo what they had done just before it doesn't matter anymore.

    1. Falmari Silver badge

      doesn't matter anymore

      "So just before they became irrelevant they decided to undo what they had done just before it doesn't matter anymore."

      I agree what was the point of making that decision!

      Irrelevant when UK leave EU and O2 formally announced plans to merge with Virgin Media.

      1. SloppyJesse

        Re: doesn't matter anymore

        UK might be out of the EU, but the EU still exists. It's not about the merger that was blocked, it's about the precedent it set, which has now been overturned. The reason was signposted very clearly in the last paragraph.

        ... "CK Hutchison will inevitably be emboldened when it comes to future mergers in mainland Europe, where it owns networks in Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Sweden, and Italy."

        1. Falmari Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: doesn't matter anymore


          Great answer (I see the reason) deservers a thumbs up.

          Obviously I am not good at reading signposts :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      We still need strong safeguards in the mobile phone arena as the market works fairly well. There is good competition, the prices are low and they have a strongish desire to keep customers (your opinion may vary on this but generally if you are looking to leave they put you through to a customer retentions team who try to persuade you to stay).

      The fact that I am on a contract for unlimited fast data, text and calls with pretty decent free roaming and it costs the equivalent of £13 per month is great.

      Something that brought cheaper prices with greater coverage through a merger would be amazing. you could look at the possibility of that with shared fixed costs. However there is a serious risk of reduced competition and that would inevitably lead to higher prices. There will be a sweet spot between the competition of companies and their ability to provide the cheapest prices for consumers and that is what the regulators must try to fathom out. Is it 3 or is it 4 major providers? You'll only ever know for sure in hindsight - therefore scrutiny in this area needs to be maintained.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I very much doubt Three will make a bid again for O2 given the ruling. Even if they're tempted for a hostile bid, costs will escalate for Three, and given that they are not making any new investments in upgrading their network masts/Cells to accomodate 5G, what chance that they would pay over the odds for this Merger/Takeover. (Remember, Telefonica would dearly love to offload their UK arm).

    Its game over for Three and will remain a minnow till they up their UK investments/upgrades to make use of the 5G spectrum they hold.

    Just read the various forums of how pathetic Three have become. They could have ruled the 5G roost by now, but hey ho ! Dumb and Dumber? Chinese greed, anyone?

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