Cellnex cleared to buy Arqiva’s cell sites for £2bn despite Three’s protests
Today, the Competition and Market’s Authority (CMA) has given Arqiva the go ahead to complete the sale of its UK cell sites to infrastructure giant Cellnex.
The £2 billion was struck last year, including the transfer of 7,400 UK masts, towers, and rooftop sites, but UK operator Three protested, claiming that the deal would make Cellnex too big a player in the UK ecosystem.
Three notably pointed out that the proposed deal would give Cellnex control over 80% of the UK’s independent mobile sites, meaning limited competition when it came to accessing cellular sites.
However, after a thorough examination, the CMA has decided that the deal does not represent a significant threat to UK competition. The Authority pointed out that Cellnex was not in the process of expanding its UK footprint prior to the merger and remains a small player in supplying telecommunication infrastructure in the UK.
The CMA noted that there was a healthy level of competition from other independent infrastructure operators (such as WIG and the Freshwave Group) and major customers (i.e., the major operators) could continue to use and build their own infrastructure, as they do for the majority of their networks.
Cellnex has been buying up infrastructure across Europe, presumably in anticipation of capitalising on the boom of 5G. Earlier this month Cellnex bought around 2,000 sites from Portuguese operator NOS, having acquired local rival OMTEL back in January. Similarly, in December of last year, Cellnex purchased the majority of Iliad’s towers in both France and Italy.
How will this large scale purchase affect the dynamic between operators and independent tower owners? Learn from industry-leading experts at this year’s Total Telecom Congress
Also in the news: