BT and EE are merging; what it means for consumers

BT Group's merger with EE has now received an official thumbs up from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The provisional clearance came after the CMA was convinced that the deal was "not expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition" in the UK.

The move brings in nearly 35 million fixed broadband, TV and direct mobile subscribers in the country under the same fold.

Why was the BT and EE merger cleared?

"Having considered all the evidence, the group does not provisionally believe that, in a dynamic and evolving sector, it is more likely than not that BT/EE will be able to use its position to damage competition or the interests of consumers," said John Wotton, chair of the CMA inquiry, relying on the fact that both BT and EE are engaged in separate businesses with no strategic overlaps in their areas.

CMA will publish its full provisional findings report later this week here.

What does the BT and EE merger mean for you?

While there will be limited impact of the deal on your existing contracts with either BT or EE, there could be positive impacts in the long term. The merger will bring in more investments which could lead EE to roll over not-spots and non-4G covered areas like smaller towns and villages in the coming years and also to offer contracts with substantial minutes and data offering. 

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 However, competitors as well as critics of the merger have warned that it could result in BT attempting to prioritise its own retail divisions. Subsequently, Ofcom is in the process of considering BT's future structure to check if structural separation in the future could prevent any added incentives to BT and promote competition. Ofcom will publish its initial conclusions in January. 

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 As per Matthew Howett, Practice Leader, Regulation, Ovum, "Rivals to both BT and EE have been calling for the structural separation of the incumbent to remove any possible incentive for BT to prioritise its own retail divisions, particularly in relation to the supply of mobile backhaul products. The CMA has considered this as part of its review, however sees no substantial lessening of competition."

Even though the merger will bring in added investment, promoting competition in both mobile and fixed line broadband sectors will ensure that there would be no sudden price increases in the future.

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