The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority has confirmed it will fast-track an investigation into BT’s acquisition of EE, which unveiled its new “connected” strategy.
BT submitted a request for a fast-track reference to a phase 2 investigation of its proposed acquisition last month.
The CMA said the terms for the speeding up of the process had been met.
It stated: “[The deal] gives rise to a realistic prospect of a substantial lessening of competition in relation to the supply of wholesale access and call origination services to mobile virtual network operators and fibre mobile backhaul services to mobile network operators in the UK.”
However, the CMA added that it had not reached a conclusion on whether fears about the impact of the merger on other markets were justified.
Third parties will now have an opportunity to present their views on the merger during the phase 2 investigation, which will be overseen by a group of independent panel members.
Andrea Coscelli, CMA Executive Director of Markets and Mergers and decision-maker in the case, commented: “BT and EE are leading suppliers of UK telecommunications services and together they will have a strong presence in many telecommunications markets.
“They also supply important inputs at the wholesale level, which enable other communications providers to compete at the retail level in the provision of mobile services.
“We have found that there is a real risk that the merger could reduce their incentives to supply these inputs and that this could have a detrimental impact on the retail mobile market.
“BT and EE have recognised that the issues in this case are complex and that the test for reference at phase 1 would be met.
“They therefore requested use of the fast track procedure and, after due consideration, we believe this to be appropriate.”
The announcement came at the same time as EE unveiled a new “connected” strategy.
The operator said it was planning to “look beyond mobile” and focus on connected homes, people, cars and businesses.
It said it would work with partners to develop new products and services in these four areas, but was happy to go it alone if it saw fit.
The company made the announcement as it unveiled its first connected product – the world’s first 4G action camera.
CEO Olaf Swantee commented: “We’ve introduced our ‘connected strategy’ as we understand our customers not only want super-fast coverage, they want products that give them the very best experiences, coupled with the most innovative and exciting ways in which to share them.
“The 4GEE Action Cam is a great example of this, a product that keeps us connected in a new way, even in the most extreme conditions, sharing those epic moments as they unfold.
“It’s the first of several highly innovative products from our devices portfolio to be unveiled this year for work and for play, offering a video experience like no other currently available on the market.”