THE merger between Orange and T-Mobile is one step closer after the firms offered to hand back a controversial section of the radio waves they own.
Rival phone networks complained to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) that the merger would give the new company an unfair advantage as it would own a part of the mobile spectrum that makes data transfer quicker. The OFT has asked the European Commission for permission to investigate and will be told on 1 March whether they have been successful.
The offer to hand back a slice of the mobile frequency is a step forward but does not include as much of the 1800MHz spectrum as rivals had hoped and the deal could still fall through.
When Orange and T-Mobile joined the market they were given a new 1800MHz range of the spectrum.
The 900MHz range is able to broadcast further and requires less infrastructure to maintain. However, the 1800MHz range is better at carrying data, which is where the problems with the proposed merger have arisen, given the large amount of data used by the increasingly popular smartphone market.