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In the UK, T-Mobile and Orange To Merge

kdawson posted about 5 years ago | from the what-is-this-competition-of-which-you-speak dept.

Cellphones 74

EthanV2 sends in BBC coverage of the merger plans of Orange and T-Mobile in the UK. "T-Mobile and Orange plan to merge their UK businesses, creating a mobile phone giant with 28.4 million customers. If completed, a deal between Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile and Orange owner France Telecom would see a firm with sales of €9.4 B (£7.0 B, $13.4 B). It would be the UK's largest provider, overtaking Telefonica's O2, with about 37% of the mobile market. ... However, it is likely that competition authorities in the UK and EU will probe the deal."

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Monopoly? (0)

tux5 (1622829) | about 5 years ago | (#29356645)

28 million. In a couple of 60 million people that must be close to 50% of the UK cellphone using population. Surely that must be a monopoly.

Re:Monopoly? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29357081)

Supposedly the new company would have around 37% of the market, which sounds daft given that there are only 60 million people in the UK. What this doesn't account for is the number of people who have both personal mobiles and mobiles supplied by their employers, eg for on-call purposes.

O2 have around 28% and Vodafone 25%, so there isn't that much in it. The issue the regulators seem to have is that the UK market will go from five major (O2, Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile and 3) players to four, and the merged Orange/T-Mobile would have a very large retail presence as well.

There are a couple of virtual providers out there as well. IIRC Virgin use the T-Mobile network, so this merger may have an impact on them.

Re:Monopoly? (1)

digitig (1056110) | about 5 years ago | (#29363771)

What this doesn't account for is the number of people who have both personal mobiles and mobiles supplied by their employers, eg for on-call purposes

And those who have multiple mobile accounts for other reasons. I have two Orange pay-as-you-go accounts that I use only to get the cheap cinema ticket offers that Orange does. My day-to-day account is Vodafone. Because they give SIMs away, and most of us have old handsets lying around, having multiple accounts like this can't be uncommon.

Re:Monopoly? (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 5 years ago | (#29363841)

I have two Orange pay-as-you-go accounts that I use only to get the cheap cinema ticket offers that Orange does.

Seriously? Have you looked at the cost of an annual pass in your local cinema? You'd probably pay less for unlimited films.

Re:Monopoly? (1)

dyefade (735994) | about 5 years ago | (#29363887)

PAYG accounts are free if you don't use them... so I doubt he'd be able to pay less.

Re:Monopoly? (1)

orta (786013) | about 5 years ago | (#29363931)

He may however on the overall costs including the cinema tickets

Re:Monopoly? (1)

Xrikcus (207545) | about 5 years ago | (#29366943)

Pay £10 for a PAYG SIM, save £7/trip to the cinema on Orange Wednesdays scheme. Get two tickets a year and you're up already. It'd take a lot more trips than that to win on an annual pass, even if they are available.

Re:Monopoly? (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 5 years ago | (#29375747)

OK, you'd have to go more than twice a month to make a pass [cineworld.co.uk] worthwhile.

Re:Monopoly? (1)

freedomlinux (1072142) | about 5 years ago | (#29367073)

Annual pass? I'm pretty sure no cinemas in my area (in the USA) will do that... where are you?

Otherwise, paying a flat rate for a phone you never use to save a good bit on cinema tickets sounds like an excellent idea.

Re:Monopoly? (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 5 years ago | (#29375773)

In the UK, a monthly pass [cineworld.co.uk] is worthwhile in summer when a lot of hits come out.

Re:Monopoly? (1)

AubergineDream (1627705) | about 5 years ago | (#29357189)

Probably of more interest is what happens to the subscribers of Virgin, Tesco etc. who effectively get their contacts via T-Mobile. Will their contacts/rates increase/change to Oranges when the deal is complete? Will Orange instead move them onto another plan?

Re:Monopoly? (2, Informative)

Johnny2225 (965346) | about 5 years ago | (#29359665)

As MVNOs they have contacts with the operators, virgin with tmobile and tesco with O2 but any change in ownership would allow the respective MVNOs to get out of the contract and use a different network, so i doubt there would be much difference in price in the short time. Although the register mentions in the article this maybe a reason why they have decided to do a 50 : 50 merger so the change in ownership clause does not become an issue.

Re:Monopoly? (5, Informative)

mrsmiggs (1013037) | about 5 years ago | (#29358203)

In 2007 we had 71 million handsets [guardian.co.uk] in the UK and the BBC think that the combined company would have 37% market share [bbc.co.uk] . It doesn't look like this would be classed as a monopoly however we could be well on our way to a cartel with only O2 and Vodafone in position to be competitive with the new merged company and 3 basically tied to the new company because of their extensive Network sharing with T-Mobile [theregister.co.uk] .

Both the EU and UK (Competition Commission and/or Ofcom) regulators will be paying a great deal of attention to the merger, given the high barriers of entry to the market place (i.e. it's not really possible) and the low number of competitors.

Re:Monopoly? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29363411)

I'm pretty sure that anything over 25% would legally be a monopoly in the UK (I know technically it's not a monopoly, but in a rare case of foresight the monopoplies and mergers laws took into account that 25%+ is enough to distort a market).

Re:Monopoly? (2, Informative)

Splab (574204) | about 5 years ago | (#29363497)

The barrier isn't that high as long as the EU keeps doing what it's been doing. MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) is the new thing, this has already taken off in Denmark for instance, it's fairly cheap to start up and due to regulations you aren't being bled dry by the actual owner of the network. It is however fairly new and quite a few kinks has to be ironed out.

Re:Monopoly? (1)

mrsmiggs (1013037) | about 5 years ago | (#29363701)

We already have a number of MVNOs in the UK (we had them before the EU started to promote them); Tesco and Virgin spring to mind but the question remains whether they are having a significant effect on the market, they don't seem to have taken a significant market share just yet. If the merger is let through it may well be on the back of mandatory provision (rate + terms) for MVNO by the merged company.

Re:Monopoly? (1)

jonbryce (703250) | about 5 years ago | (#29364349)

The only other major one I know of is TalkTalk, which is owned by Carphone Warehouse, and uses Vodafone's network.

Re:Monopoly? (1)

Inda (580031) | about 5 years ago | (#29365011)

I use Tesco on O2's network. They offer everything the big boys do... plus loyalty points. Cheap, cheap phones, unlocked after only a £30 spend too.

For those who don't know, Tesco are the biggest retailer in the UK. Something like 1 in every 6 pounds is spent at Tesco.

Re:Monopoly? (2, Interesting)

crunzh (1082841) | about 5 years ago | (#29363811)

Not really, most of the MVNO's have been bought by the operator that owns their network. There are no large independent MVNO's anymore.

Re:Monopoly? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29363537)

...given the high barriers of entry to the market place (i.e. it's not really possible) and the low number of competitors.

Didn't 3 prove over the last 5 years that entry to the market-place is perfectly possible? And, as The Register [theregister.co.uk] notes:

The UK mobile industry is one of the most competitive in the world

So I don't imagine anyone's going to stop this...

Re:Monopoly? (3, Informative)

jonbryce (703250) | about 5 years ago | (#29364375)

There aren't going to be any more spectrum auctions for a while. Three got in by bidding in the last auction, and they aren't exactly that new to the market. Hutchison Wampoa, the Chinese company that owns Three was the original owner of Orange.

Re:Monopoly? (4, Informative)

jonbryce (703250) | about 5 years ago | (#29363581)

If you read the summary, it is about 37% of the market. There are more cellphones than people in the UK. Pretty much everyone has a cellphone, and a lot of people have more than one - eg work cellphone and personal cellphone.

Re:Monopoly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29364839)

And I'm sure I'm not the only person with a UK mobile phone who is no longer in the UK.

Re:Monopoly? (2, Interesting)

lightversusdark (922292) | about 5 years ago | (#29363719)

I have read that such a deal would probably result in a total monopoly on the back end for Ericsson.
Thus the networks (Vodafone, O2, Orange-Mobile and Three) could have their operating costs pushed up, which would be passed on to the consumer.

Re:Monopoly? (0, Flamebait)

smoker2 (750216) | about 5 years ago | (#29370493)

You read wrong then.

Re:Monopoly? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29363785)

I just dropped a deuce. Before it could even touch the water, it was recruited by the Obama administration to be the Sanitation Czar. Hot dang!

Note to mods: this is not off-topic. shit and T-Mobile just kind of go together.

Re:Monopoly? (1)

amias (105819) | about 5 years ago | (#29363853)

> In a couple of 60 million people

wow , that is a seriously open relationship

Mergers (2, Insightful)

AndrewNeo (979708) | about 5 years ago | (#29356659)

However, it is likely that competition authorities in the UK and EU will probe the deal.

Is there ever any news of mergers that hit Slashdot that aren't probed by the EU?

Re:Mergers (3, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | about 5 years ago | (#29356859)

Is there ever any news of mergers that hit Slashdot that aren't probed by the EU?

I don't recall the EU probing Slashdot's merger with Sourceforge ;)

Re:Mergers (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | about 5 years ago | (#29363619)

Is there ever any news of mergers that hit Slashdot that aren't probed by the EU?

It's the whole idea of competition regulation departments in the government to probe mergers of large companies. It would be news if they didn't probe a merger.

Re:Mergers (3, Informative)

VJ42 (860241) | about 5 years ago | (#29363991)

However, it is likely that competition authorities in the UK and EU will probe the deal.

Is there ever any news of mergers that hit Slashdot that aren't probed by the EU?

It tends not to be news if two tiny companies merge to form another small company; that happens all the time without regulators getting involved, it's just not important enough to hit the/. front page.

Re:Mergers (2, Funny)

teslar (706653) | about 5 years ago | (#29364107)

Is there ever any news of mergers that hit Slashdot that aren't probed by the EU?

Does the Enterprise ever go on patrol along the neutral zone and nothing happens?

Re:Mergers (2, Insightful)

compro01 (777531) | about 5 years ago | (#29367705)

Yes. Nothing of interest happened when the Enterprise-E was there in First Contact.

Re:Mergers (1)

amias (105819) | about 5 years ago | (#29364915)

in soviet russia monopolies commission probes eu !

Google phone to Orange? (1)

metageek (466836) | about 5 years ago | (#29359357)

I hope this means that Android phones will now be available on Orange.

Re:Google phone to Orange? (1)

stupid_is (716292) | about 5 years ago | (#29363445)

What, like the HTC Hero that's been available since July? (see orange.co.uk) Apparently they're also looking at the upcoming Motorola Android phone

Re:Google phone to Orange? (1)

damburger (981828) | about 5 years ago | (#29363897)

Seconded. I moved from Orange to T-Mobile, despite the fact I was largely happy with the Orange service, to get the G1. Despite the fact I find corporate monopolies to be scary, this is probably going to work out well for me as a customer; Orange have a better network IMHO than T-Mobile.

Re:Google phone to Orange? (1)

Keeper Of Keys (928206) | about 5 years ago | (#29364477)

I wanted to do this, but T-mobile coverage where I live is so abysmal it wasn't really an option. But I think all the carriers have them now.

Re:Google phone to Orange? (2, Informative)

FireFury03 (653718) | about 5 years ago | (#29364611)

Seconded. I moved from Orange to T-Mobile, despite the fact I was largely happy with the Orange service, to get the G1.

I moved from Orange to Three when I got my HTC Dream because Orange's data price structure is totally uncompetitive with pretty much any of the other MNOs....

Re:Google phone to Orange? (1)

smoker2 (750216) | about 5 years ago | (#29370617)

I have T-mobile on a sim only deal, and the sim (with 50 minutes call time - any network) costs 6.50 per month. I added unlimited data for 7.50 per month (tethering allowed). I get full speed HSDPA access most places. If they merge with Orange, I wonder who'll be pulling the strings, because I'll be off if they mess with my data plan.

So.... (0)

IonOtter (629215) | about 5 years ago | (#29359929)

I guess Darth Vader [youtube.com] finally capitulated and joined the Orange Side?

Re:So.... (1)

damburger (981828) | about 5 years ago | (#29363909)

My favourite bit is when he smacks the fat guy round the head. Guess they will be bringing 'order' to the industry now...

In the UK... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29363391)

In the UK, people annoyed by retardedly phrased Slashdot headlines.

Re:In the UK... (3, Funny)

ledow (319597) | about 5 years ago | (#29363679)

In the UK, at least one person annoyed by the non-word "retardedly".

9.4 B (£7.0 B, $13.4 B) (0, Offtopic)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 5 years ago | (#29363877)

Forget the title - What on earth happened to the dollar? It used to have a 1-to-1 parity with the Euro and now it's losing value.

Re:9.4 B (£7.0 B, $13.4 B) (1)

Pax681 (1002592) | about 5 years ago | (#29364039)

well it's a story about operators in the UK where the GBP is king. also the euro has a relevancy here too

the dollar isn't really relevant to a story here unless it's maybe about the exchange rate or some such.

so unless you are personally willing to go through ALL the stories here on slashdot and convert ALL the dollar values to GBP and Euros then there's ALWAYS www.xe.com to help

you are welcome

Re:9.4 B (£7.0 B, $13.4 B) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29364063)

Forget the title - What on earth happened to the dollar? It used to have a 1-to-1 parity with the Euro and now it's losing value.

Inflationary monetary policy, foreign occupations, record levels of corporate greed (e.g. gambling bankers) and personal greed (debts), George Bush...need I go on?

The future. [wordpress.com]

Re:In the UK... (1)

steelfood (895457) | about 5 years ago | (#29365131)

Speaks like Yoda, /. editors do to sound wiser.

Re:In the UK... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 5 years ago | (#29367617)

Works not.

cotton niggers, sand niggers, rice niggers (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29363393)

kill all niggers

Not spam but... (2, Interesting)

Keeper Of Keys (928206) | about 5 years ago | (#29364517)

Since somebody is clearly removing all the posts that are actual spam, couldn't they remove ones like this while they're about it?

Re:Not spam but... (2, Insightful)

BertieBaggio (944287) | about 5 years ago | (#29368497)

Since somebody is clearly removing all the posts that are actual spam, couldn't they remove ones like this while they're about it?

Like you say, it's not spam, but it *is* similar. People who respond to spam beget more spam, and people who respond to flamebait / troll posts beget more of those posts.

Basically, it's not worth your time to respond, as that is exactly what these folks are looking for.

T & Orange (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29363607)

Reports on this vary, according to some this is not a merger (which would attract the attention of the competition people) but an agreement to share infrastructure. Deals of the latter sort have already been approved by the regulators.

unprecedented evile intends to 'merge' universe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29363659)

could go the other way. it would appear as though the creators are 'upset' with US. no matter (ahha), never mind, we were misinformed..., again. you call this 'weather'? never a better time to adhere to whatever it is that you believe in.

Truly wonderful news (3, Funny)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | about 5 years ago | (#29363707)

This merger makes me very happy indeed. One of my kids is a lawyer specialising in telecoms competition issues. Recession? What recession?

Re:Truly wonderful news (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29364189)

I hope your kid catches the swine flu.

You really don't get this, do you? (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | about 5 years ago | (#29366147)

Although I was making a sarcastic point - it's a bunfight for lawyers - this will inevitably result in litigation. It is potentially very anti-competitive. Now, what do you want? A strong European Competition Commission that takes consumer issues seriously and is prepared to take on multinationals who want monopolies, or a weak ECC and the sort of high prices and restrictive contracts that are the norm in the US?

And who do you want in court? Elderly lawyers who don't understand this newfangled mobile phone stuff, or specialists who have studied the subject, worked with both providers and Government departments, and understand the issues?

Let me reiterate:not only are you nasty, you are clearly totally unqualified to comment on the subject.

You might also like to consider, insofar as you are capable, that perhaps if companies were not so monopolistic and their bosses - who get paid far more than even the richest lawyers - not so greedy, the need for corporate lawyers would rapidly dry up.

Re:You really don't get this, do you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29370731)

Calm down, bro.

Re:You really don't get this, do you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29371905)

I hope you catch the swine flu.

btw, a vulture which has studied in a specialised subject, is still a vulture.

Re:Truly wonderful news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29365479)

more randoidian nothing matters except YOU thinking. the very root cause of the problems.

eternity, what eternity?

Re:Truly wonderful news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29365551)

That's a very specific specialisation.

German Tmobile and "France" Tcom? (2, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | about 5 years ago | (#29363949)

Did they already extend into Poland?

Re:German Tmobile and "France" Tcom? (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | about 5 years ago | (#29364061)

Did they already extend into Poland?

Orange exists in Poland, so I assume they're invading that way.

Re:German Tmobile and "France" Tcom? (2, Informative)

sznupi (719324) | about 5 years ago | (#29364351)

T-mobile also, although the market seems to resist the efforts of German high command at rebranding, so it still functions under the name "Era" (plus fully dependant prepaid network "Heyah")

Re:German Tmobile and "France" Tcom? (3, Interesting)

jonbryce (703250) | about 5 years ago | (#29364405)

and T-Mobile owns 93% of Era which is the third largest operator in Poland.

Verizon - MCI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29364035)

I paid the bills at my last employer. About six months after MCI was gobbled up by Verizon, the bills went up about 40% (an estimate because I never did the math). US companies could raise their prices and pass the costs on to their custromers and the investors on Wall Street can take their profits home (and afford health insurance). Of course, it just makes us a little less competitive. Our balance of trade gets a little worse as our trading partners can go elsewhere.

My last employer is dropping almost all of it's Verizon accounts. I imagine their response to this will be to buy Global Crossing.

How will the world go on if no cellphone ? (0, Offtopic)

sophialxw (1567701) | about 5 years ago | (#29364781)

I have 3 cellphones now, but not very efficiently used yet. Besides the internet, it seems we contact with each other all by cellphone, it's hard to imagine what we could do if cellphone disappeared. garment accessories, laces, lace fabrics, buttons, zippers, ribbons & tapes, cords & ropes, beads, sequins, headties, embroidery threads, metallic yarns, fashion accessories; knitting machine spare parts, yarn feeders, lycra feeders, stop motions, belt adjusters, pulleys and needles, http://www.dk-textile.com/ [dk-textile.com]

That'd make the new company simply... Orabile! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29364799)

This can only really be seen as a bad thing for the mobile phone market in the UK.

It's time the monopolies and mergers commission stamped on this one and Ofcom (the telecommunications regulator) finally grew some balls...

This isn't exactly relevant, but the rant about this has been building in my mind for quite some time! :)....

Mobile networks in the UK are a bit of a farce, they're still tied to outdated ideas of tying a handset to a network, and long contracts. (yes, I know, the US (and Canada) are even worse...).

If they really want to encourage competition, force all the networks to share all their base-stations and carry each other's traffic for free (or by compulsory purchasing the network hardware and setting up a management company (a.la railtrack - but hopefully not quite such a chronic cock-up...)) then all they have to compete on is customer-service and benefits... that'll drive things in a positive direction for the consumer, not to mention everyone would have THE best coverage they could have on ANY network :).

Alternatively, my other idea was to make it against the law to offer a contract for longer than 30 days, and to prevent operators from bundling phones with contracts... Also, phones would be required to be supplied unlocked,.

For those people who like to buy their phones in installments (crazy, crazy people), stores could sell phones on a monthly loan scheme, but it would not be allowed to be tied to line-rental and the contract associated with a physical sim-card.

This would provide all the following benefits:

- Make the real costs of network charges a LOT more transparent.
- Would increase Churn (bad for networks, but good for consumers and the market as a whole).
- Would allow anyone to use any device on any network (encouraging churn).
- There would be NO exclusives to any particular network (people could go to the best contract for that device, not stick with a sub-standard data network (not naming any names *cough* O2 *cough*))
- No operator branding (yeuch, every time I see it, it reminds me of someone chavving up a car!)
- More competitive deals (Networks would have to work hard to keep customers in one place)
- Better customer service (or people will go to a network that doesn't employ script-reading drones)

Ah, but well, that won't happen as regulators don't really work for the benefits of the consumer and try to encourage innovation.

Frankly, having been on ALL the networks in the UK at one time or another, they're pretty much as bad as each other... it's more a case of choosing the least-worst!

Just my observations from experience of myself and friends/family:

Orange - Fair Signal, Medium Customer Service, Stingy Data, nasty habit of not offering same deals to upgrading customers.
Vodafone - Excellent Signal, Good Customer Service, Medium Data, nasty habit of being an absolute RIP OFF price wise, and 24 month contracts!?!?!
O2 - Poor Signal, Medium Customer Service, Good Data, nasty habit of dropping data connections, seems unable to cope with data traffic but stuck with them due to exclusive phone deals.... :(
T-Mobile - Poor Signal (unless in a major city), Poor Customer Service, Medium/Good Data, let down by signal, phone choice and diabolical customer service.
3 - Not tried yet, but MVNO, can't speak for now, but used to have a bad habit of not giving cheap phones for upgrading customers (whilst still trying to charge the same per month for line-rental).
Virgin - Another MVNO, signal problems as piggy-back T-Mobile's network.

Posted A/C as I can't be bothered to sign up just to post the odd comment... (no offence)

Re:That'd make the new company simply... Orabile! (1)

Soruk (225361) | about 5 years ago | (#29365225)

3 is not an MVNO. They may have recently set up a network sharing agreement with T-Mobile, but that doesn't make them a virtual network. The basic idea is that all existing T-Mobile 3G towers now transmit both T-Mobile and 3 identifiers, and same goes for the existing 3 ones.

However, their network is a bit patchy, but their data plans aren't too bad - but watch their out-of-bundle rates of 10p/MB on contract or £1/MB on PAYG.

Compare to Orange's "mobile broadband" offering where their bundles might not be quite as generous but out-of-bundle is 1.5p/MB.

Re:That'd make the new company simply... Orabile! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29365651)

Ah ok, that makes sense. I've not totally discounted 3 as a network, their packages are fairly competitive but like you say, network coverage is a problem, but it also seems to be an issue for O2 as well :(

Looks like it'll be quite a while longer before you can rely upon Spotify or Pandora instead of good old MP3s! (commuting in the UK at least, and they'll have to deal with the issue of no signal on the tube) :).

Re:That'd make the new company simply... Orabile! (1)

mapnjd (92353) | about 5 years ago | (#29372191)

Check Ofcom. 3 have the best 3G coverage in the UK.

Not probing the deal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29364989)

However, it is likely that competition authorities in the UK and EU will probe the deal

Nope, they will probe the anus's of every subscriber for hidden phones and SIM cards. Only then will they be able to report accurate usage statistics of the mobile frequency radio space and also accurate usage of toilet paper for the cleansing of one's own anal hole.

Couldn't care less about the monopoly aspect... (1)

hande1 (1619561) | about 5 years ago | (#29365535)

The EU tend to be vicious these days with mobile operators, so I'm not really worried about the monopoly aspect. What I'm pleased about is what this could potentially do to HSPA coverage on our fair Isle. T-Mobile & Huchinson are already in bed till 2031 in a UMTS Network sharing agreement. Add Orange into the mix and Voda (with their handful of 14.4Mbps coverage spots) don't really look too hot...
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