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BT’s proposed acquisition of EE will create a ‘true UK digital champion’, according to BT Chief Executive Gavin Patterson, with consumers and businesses benefiting from further innovation and integrated services in a highly competitive market.
He was backed by EE Chief Executive, Olaf Swantee, who said the deal would result in continued investment to boost what he described as the ‘most digitally hungry country in Europe’.
The executives were speaking at the launch of a report which recognises there will be extraordinary growth in data usage, representing challenges and opportunities for the UK. Both executives believe the country will need a digital champion who is both willing and able to invest in ultrafast broadband and 5G.
BT and EE have invested £35 billion in the UK over the last decade. As a result, the UK has the highest superfast broadband coverage and take-up in the EU ‘big five’ as well as the fastest European 4G network.
Patterson said the integrated company, following approval, would have the scale and expertise to deliver the UK’s connected future and help put ‘clear blue water’ between the UK and its international peers. He said other companies operating in the UK would be able to benefit and compete through highly regulated, equal access to Openreach’s network, and wholesale access to the EE mobile network.
He added: “The world is changing with customers wanting access to the internet on their terms. They are spending more time online than ever before and they want the best connection whether they are at home, in the office or on the move. Seamless connectivity is the future and we are keen to deliver the new, innovative services of the future.”
Convergence is the key trend he explained, whilst outlining BT’s vision in which services are delivered seamlessly over both fixed and mobile networks that use a converged core to carry traffic. He said the deal would provide customers with greater choice and value as the integrated company would be in a better position to offer bundled services.
Swantee highlighted how the merger between T-Mobile and Orange had unlocked investment and enabled EE to drive 4G forward in the UK. He said: “In BT and EE you are bringing together two companies with a similar core belief. Two companies that share a renewed commitment to network leadership, innovation and delivering the best for their customers.”
He added: “A world-leading, combined fixed and mobile, digital infrastructure will sit at the heart of a successful UK economy. The success of the UK in the future will be built on its ability to deliver real-time, data-heavy information through leading edge network technology. Bringing BT and EE together makes that possible.”
Paolo Pescatore, Director, Multiplay and Video at CCS Insight, said the comments were the start of BT and EE setting out a strong benchmark as they move into phase 2 of the acquisition. “Positioning themselves as ‘digital champions’ reflects the significant investment that BT has made in not only its ultrafast broadband network, but also its recent focus on BT TV and BT Sport and EE’s move towards 4G and driving network innovation.”
“As the deal comes close to finalising, rivals will be calling for lower prices, greater access to BT’s network and even a full demerger of Openreach. While there are merits of BT’s acquisition of EE, regulators will be duty bound to listen to the comments of their competitors who will feel less positive about the transaction and the increasing monopolisation of the telecoms sector,” he added.