Everything Everywhere, the joint venture between Orange UK and T-Mobile UK, is reportedly preparing to launch a spectrum auction next month, in line with conditions imposed on it as part of the regulatory approval for the tie-up of the two cellcos.
As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in January 2010 the two mobile operator’s parent companies, France Telecom (FT) and Deutsche Telekom (DT), approached the European Commission (EC) to consider the merger proposals, rather than the UK regulatory authorities, with reports suggesting that the two parent companies believed that the European executive would be more likely to act both swiftly and leniently in consideration of the mooted tie-up. Subsequently, on 1 March the EC announced that it had given conditional approval to the deal, although it noted that among the terms of the approval was the requirement that the combined entity must relinquish a quarter of its spectrum in the 1800MHz band, as it was claimed the duo’s combined 1800MHz holdings would give them a significant advantage over competitors, especially when it came to deploying Long Term Evolution (LTE) services.
In the most recent development in the matter, the Financial Times reports that next month’s frequency sale could raise as much as GBP400 million (USD619 million), with Everything Everywhere understood to be currently in exclusive discussions with a view to appointing Royal Bank of Scotland to oversee the auction process. According to the report, the sale mandate is expected to be confirmed next week, with the sale likely to begin shortly thereafter. It is widely expected that bids for the spectrum are likely to be lodged by the UK’s other mobile network operators, O2 UK, Vodafone UK and Hutchison 3G UK (H3G UK), while other companies with an interest in mobile services, such as BT, BSkyB and Virgin Media, have also been touted as potential buyers.