David Dyson, CEO of 3 UK, believes there is a “significant imbalance” in the UK operator market and “fundamentally disagrees” that four operators in the country is a good thing, Financial Times (FT) reported.
He was speaking in support of his company’s £10.5 billion acquisition of O2, which has not received support from the country’s regulator, Ofcom. The deal is awaiting approval from Brussels, although the European Commission may take a hard line on the matter.
Dyson said that “after 13 years of fighting incredibly hard, 3 UK has 10 per cent market share and is still subscale in an industry where scale is really important to be sustainably competitive”. The merger would up this market share to around 40 per cent.
“We have shown that we have always used our spare capacity to drive competition. We have been hamstrung over the past two years and I can’t wait to get on the front foot,” he said, adding that the operator is running out of capacity on some UK sites.
Dyson believes consumers and the government would agree with his stance, given the ‘not-spots’, reliability of networks and state of 4G rollout in the country.
He also said BT, with its acquisition of EE, and Vodafone UK are making things hard for smaller rivals because they have control of more spectrum.
“The deal means faster speeds and more capacity. The merged group drops an additional 25 per cent of capacity into the UK market,” he commented.
Separately, FT said 3 UK will stick to existing network-sharing arrangements after the merger, addressing concerns that the deal will upset the current balance where operators have combined their masts into two networks — one used by 3 UK and EE, and the other by O2 and Vodafone.
“The merger is about the smallest operator taking control over our future. It’s in our DNA to compete. We just want a level playing field,” Dyson said.
Last week, 3 UK owner CK Hutchison pitched three promises to the European Commission in a bid to gain approval for its bid.
These included not raising prices of voice, text or data for five years; investing £5 billion in that period; and enabling “other meaningful competitors” to enter the market using its network.