BT today urged regulators to advance their scrutiny of its £12bn purchase of EE to the next and final stage, claiming the deal won’t harm competition or dilute consumer choice.
In its submission to the Competition and Markets Authority, the UK’s biggest home phone and broadband provider said the deal would not reduce the number of fixed-line or mobile operators in the market.
It’s also argued that TalkTalk and Sky’s own mobile services will boost the number of consumer brands available.
Some of BT’s competitors have called for the separation of its Openreach division which provides network access to most UK telecoms firms, including mobile networks which use BT’s network to carry some of their voice and data traffic.
However BT said these companies would be “unaffected by the acquisition” of EE due to Openreach’s arms-length nature which requires it to provide access to all users on a fair basis.
BT’s submission to the CMA also argues that its shares in the broadband and mobile markets would be under the threshold that regulators normally look for before considering whether action is required.
As a result, the firm says the CMA should proceed directly to a ‘Phase 2’ investigation into the proposed acquisition which would mean a shorter end-to-end review period compared to the CMA’s usual processes.
Gavin Patterson, BT Group Chief Executive, said: “BT’s acquisition of EE will be good for consumers, businesses and UK plc, as well as for BT shareholders, so we are keen to get regulatory clearance. A larger BT will be able to invest and innovate even more than now, something that’s good for jobs and good for customers.
“The acquisition will lead to greater competition, given our history as a natural and willing wholesaler, enabling other companies to use the networks we own.
“We provide wholesale access to companies in the broadband market and we are happy to support others who wish to compete in the mobile market as well.
“The UK is one of the most tightly regulated marketplaces in the world and that will continue to be the case ensuring all companies can compete on a fair basis.”