The merger of two of Britain's biggest telecoms providers is likely to be delayed whilst it is investigated by the Office of Fair Trading. The merger which was made public last month would create a company with a 37% stake of the mobile phone market in the UK and reduce the number of large providers to four.
The Guardian reports that the merger has been refered to EU regulators by the OFT and could be delayed. Consumer groups have been vocal in oposing the merger which they say will lead to reduced competition in an already limited market. Proposed reglations could mean that several of the main providers could be forced to sell of parts of their mobile spectrum to avoid any one company having too large a share.
The 3G spectrum needs improvement if the Governments pladge of 'broadband for all by 2012' is to be met. The Government has called on mobile broadband providers to increase their coverage to areas that cannot recieve fixed line broadband. (The Guardian article linked above claims that providers will have to 'plug the gaps in existing fixed-line infrastructure with wireless broadband'. They seem to be confusing Wireless broadband (which uses a wireless router plugged into a phone line) with Mobile Broadband) . If no single company is allowed a larger share of the spectrum this increase in coverage will have to have the backing of each of the main providers.