Will/Would 3 Be Allowed to Acquire Orange Austria?

This week, the telecoms press spread a rumor that 3 Austria is in the final stages of negotiation with Orange Austria about a takeover. Interesting news but nobody really spends much thought if the Austrian regulator would actually allow such a move!?

In effect, such a takeover would reduce the number of independent networks from a healthy four to only three. Can the wireless market be healthy and competitive with only three network operators? If you don't hear anything about this deal anymore than I guess the regulator's answer was no.

Should they allow it, the consequences would be quite far reaching as once a network is gone it is quite unlikely a competitor would be interested in errecting a fourth one from scratch again, as the age for new wireless network operators is over.

It wouldn't be the first time a regulator said no to such a move, see Switzerland for example were a similar was just stopped recently at a much later stage by the regulator.