BT Group, Deutsche Telekom and Orange have agreed to terms by which BT will buy EE for £12.5 billion ($18.98 billion) in cash and stock, a move that will put BT back into the consumer mobile services business after a decade absence, and also merge the U.K.’s largest fixed network operator and the U.K.’s biggest mobile service provider.
As part of the deal, BT will gain 30 million accounts, including some 24.5 million consumer mobile accounts and a Long Term Evolution fourth generation network that covers about 75 percent of potential U.K. customers.
The deal has to be approved by shareholders and regulators, but is part of several trends. European service providers now believe they need more scale to compete, driving mergers and acquisitions.
Also, because of the difficulty of growing in saturated markets, tier one service providers are blending mobile and fixed network services, moving towards quadruple play services (video entertainment, voice, high speed access, mobile).