The acquisition of EE by BT is a long drawn out affair and today one major hurdle looks to have been cleared as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has given provisional clearance for the acquisition and is now accepting responses to the provisional findings.
The provisional report looked into the effects on both the retail and wholesale mobile and broadband markets. On the fixed line broadband market the CMA accepts that once BT is in control of EE the margin test run by Ofcom on superfast broadband (SFBB) may need to be tweaked. The wholesale broadband area considered not just the classic consumer scenarios but the effect on independent fibre network providers that may have been courting EE as a dark fibre customer and it seems that the existing Ofcom Business Connectivity Market Review which is to address the dark fibre market introduced uncertainty in this area.
The retail mobile sector is the area most people will be worried about, i.e. less competition allowing pricing to rise and this risk was considered but the CMA believes that the level of competition in the UK mobile market is such that a stronger EE would not harm competition. We suspect that a bigger effect may be felt by the EU changes to roaming that will see roaming charges vanish across the EU in 2017 i.e. operators both virtual and physical will seek to maintain the balance sheet by increasing mobile plan costs slightly across the board.