According to the Austrian Press Agency (APA), mobile operators T-Mobile Austria and Orange Austria are poised to merge their respective wireless networks as early as this month. Contracts for the long-rumoured operational tie-up are reportedly ready to be signed, and a final decision is expected to be made by 30 September. Nevertheless, Orange CEO Michael Krammer was reluctant to comment on the story, which emanates from unnamed sources close to the deal, saying: ‘This is a decision of the owners, we cannot comment’. Meanwhile T-Mobile spokesman Christian Rothmuller also dismissed the report as a ‘rumour’.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, the cellular duo first announced a network partnership agreement in April 2011, relating solely to the joint use of their existing 3G infrastructure in rural areas. The collaboration between the two operators is expected to benefit over six million customers across the country. The central aim of the agreement is to boost 3G network coverage for customers of both companies and increase capacity in order to provide subscribers with new mobile broadband services in the future. However, TeleGeography notes that an even closer alliance between the two mobile operators was initially mooted in February 2011, when it was revealed that the UK merger between T-Mobile and Orange – which resulted in the creation of a new entity branded ‘Everything Everywhere’ – may well act as a template for mergers in other European countries. Elie Girard, France Telecom’s vice-president of strategy and development, claimed that further collaboration between Orange and T-Mobile would ‘address new growth opportunities as well as operational efficiency issues’.