The announcement this morning by Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom of the impending merger of T-Mobile UK and Orange UK has been one of the top trending topics on twitter today and has been a hot topic in the office.
It has been no secret that Deutsche Telekom have been looking to sell off the UK arm and it seems quite sensible that Orange the only mobile operator not currently involved in a Radio Access Network consolidation of some nature with another operator would want to be involved.
When the news broke earlier this year that Vodafone & O2 had entered into a network co-operation deal similar it would seem to the RAN consolidation announced last year by 3UK & T-Mobile it became apparent that orange would have to do something.
It can be argued that they did try in the first place to shake the market up by investigating a site share/network share of their own with vodafone a couple of years back, but that didn’t come off. It is my personal opinion that the 3UK/T-Mobile deal in forming MBNL UK was as a direct result of the orange/vodafone trial. Now it is all change, it’s analagous to a game of musical chairs, a chair has been taken away. the music has stopped and instead of being the last one standing Orange have sat on the knee of T-Mobile. Now the interesting question is whether or not they have pushed 3UK off the chair aswell or whether the MBNL experiment will be allowed to continue to press ahead. Time will tell, it always does with these things.
For the observer of this market the challenge is trying to keep up how it is evolvimg. Perhaps these sorts of the deals are the only way mobile operators are going to survive as they continue to labour under the massive debt they were placed in as a consequence of the huge sums paid for the 3G licenses auction in 2000.