O2 may return to BT
At a time when market dominance in the dark fibre infrastructure by BT is being fought against it seems Telefonica may be willing to sell O2 UK to the BT Group. BT has its own mobile arm selling to the business sector already, with a consumer launch on its way, but re-acquiring O2 after the original sale in 2005 would kick start their entrance into the mobile market.
BBC Business Live is covering the unfolding drama. Rumours of Telefonica looking for a way out of the UK market have been around for a while, but selling to an existing large mobile operator would have been problematic, but given the increasing pressure on BT Group over access to Openreach ducting, a sale of a mobile arm may be a protracted regulatory battle. The reason being that the mobile market will be frightened of the ability of a BT/O2 arm to exploit the Openreach duct network, particularly as backhaul capacity is the key to the success of 4G.
There are other dark fibre and duct providers, but while many have tried none have gained the same sort of network footprint as Openreach, but ultimately the only real way we will see competition is if competitors were to build their own dark fibre network in the half of the UK where there is no major competition.