News & Insight

Welcome, EE customers, to the pain of being a BT customer

Christian Nellemann

XLN CEO Christian Nellemann offers his take on the merger between BT and EE

BT’s merger with EE – the UK’s largest mobile operator – has been cleared by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

In effect, the UK’s largest phone and broadband operator has just bought the UK’s biggest mobile business, and no one has batted an eyelid.

The merger will apparently not cause ‘significant harm to competition or the interests of consumers’. These comments are the result of a six-month ‘probe’ into the deal.

A dangerous precedent

My concern is that after many years of healthy competition in phone, broadband and mobile, this merger might mark the dawn of a new era.

Because ultimately, the regulator has ignored very legitimate concerns. It’s refused to factor the upcoming merger of O2 and Three into its decision, despite the fact it would now spell the end for almost any other competition. The mobile market will shrink, and consumers will suffer.

Then there’s the fact that BT dominates the market for connecting up mobile masts, via Openreach. Openreach, a business that is failing customers already, now gets even bigger, and even more cumbersome. I find it astounding that Openreach’s dire performance wasn’t taken into account given that this merger directly affects it, and its customers.

It’s little wonder that Vodafone is saying the telco market is now being ‘re-monopolised’.

Good luck to EE customers

Social media is already flooded with EE customers, intent on avoiding BT, bemoaning the merger. And that’s because they know what being a BT customer looks like.

It means appalling customer service. It means wasting time on hold no matter how urgent your problem is. It means excessive charges and lengthy delays whenever Openreach is called out to solve a problem.

Welcome, EE customers, to the pain of being a BT customer. And unfortunately, it’s going to get worse, because the giant just got even bigger.