T-Mobile and Orange to file EC paper by January

ORANGE and T-Mobile are expected to submit a formal merger proposal to the EU competition watchdog in the next couple of weeks amid speculation the telecoms players may be forced to sell off bandwidth.

The European Commission was expected to get the document at the end of November. Industry insiders speculated yesterday that it was taking longer than expected to agree on anti-competition concessions.

In particular the two companies, who together own the majority of the 1800-MHz radio band, are thought to be thrashing out how much of their share of the spectrum to sell – a likely requirement of regulatory approval from the EC.

In November Olaf Swantee, Orange parent company France Telecom’s head of mobile operations, said the firms “do not believe there is any need for concessions” and suggested the merger would be waved through on both sides of the Channel.

Last night spokesmen for T-Mobile and Orange declined to comment on whether this was still the case.

A 50/50 joint venture between Orange and T-Mobile would create a giant with a 37 per cent share of the UK’s mobile market.