Speaking to Bloomberg about the pending USD1.8 billion takeover of Orange Austria by its smaller rival H3G, rival operator T-Mobile Austria has stressed: ‘This takeover cannot be approved without restrictions’. T-Mobile reportedly harbours reservations over the implications of the merger on the country’s emergent Long Term Evolution (LTE) market, indicating that a tie-up between the third- and fourth-placed mobile operators would lead to ‘unacceptable competitive advantages in building [an LTE network]’, and has called for a ‘comprehensive reorganisation of frequencies’ before the deal is approved.
TeleGeography notes that T-Mobile’s concerns are possibly unfounded; in September 2010’s LTE spectrum auction Orange fared poorly, securing a smaller block of frequencies than each of its Austrian wireless rivals. Indeed, following H3G’s November 2011 LTE launch in Vienna, Orange was the sole LTE licensee without a commercial 4G network to its name. That month the cellco blamed insufficient frequencies and a lack of LTE-suitable devices for the delay, casting doubts over the future of its LTE network.
In related news, H3G parent company Hutchison Whampoa this week submitted the takeover deal to European Union (EU) regulatory authorities, and is counting on regulatory approval by the middle of this year.