BT Group warned the potential for Cellnex to increase its stronghold over the UK market could damage competition, lead to higher prices and impact services, as it hit out at the Spanish tower company’s proposed purchase of CK Hutchison’s infrastructure assets in the country.
In a submission to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), BT cautioned the proposed deal would increase an already substantial share of the market held by Cellnex, in turn strengthening the infrastructure company’s bargaining position in commercial negotiations for access to existing macro sites.
The CMA is probing the UK element of a wider €10 billion deal for CK Hutchison’s European assets. BT stated the move represented “a significant development in the UK wireless telecommunications sector”.
Mobile operator 3 UK currently uses the towers in question.
BT added the proposed deal would “remove any realistic scope” for smaller competitors to achieve critical scale in the short-to-medium term, inevitably leading to higher prices for BT and other providers, and lower service levels.
The operator also believes the deal will adversely impact its ability to use the Mobile Broadband Network joint venture it runs with 3 UK to deploy 5G services.
BT asserted Cellnex already holds 80 per cent to 90 per cent of the UK’s developed macro sites and 90 per cent to 100 per cent of available PoPs.
Cellnex received clearance for its CK Hutchison’ move in all the other European markets involved: Italy; Austria; the Republic of Ireland; Denmark; and Sweden.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back