The European Union yesterday ratified T-Mobile Netherlands’ planned acquisition of Dutch rival Orange Netherlands, saying such a tie-up would not materially alter or impede the level of competition in the domestic mobile market. T-Mobile Netherlands, owned by Germany’s Deutsche Telekom (DT), launched services over its DCS-1800 network in 1999 as Ben Nederland, at which time it was owned by Belgacom and TDC. In July 2000 Ben entered the Dutch UMTS auction as part of 3G Blue, a consortium which also included DT’s T-Mobile unit. Three months after their successful UMTS bid 3G Blue’s owners formally established their Dutch 3G venture: the Danish and Belgian telcos agreed to contribute Ben, while T-Mobile said it would pay the EUR375 million licence fee and finance the UMTS network rollout, with its total participation amounting to around EUR1.1 billion. T-Mobile, however, later bought out the company, taking 100% control in September 2002, and the following February Ben took on the global T-Mobile brand. By March 2007 the operator had 2.6 million subscribers, up from 2.3 million a year before, giving it a 15% share of the overall market. However, the addition of Orange’s roughly 1.9 million wireless subscribers will increase its market share to more than 27%, while the addition of 612,000 internet users will also be welcomed.