Rene Obermann, CEO of T-Mobile, said today that he expects the rash of
mergers and acquisitions that has spread across the mobile world to
With the industry recently bearing witness to Telefonica's £17.7 billion (US$30.8 billion) takeover of O2 and a $67bn (US$116.4 billion)
tie-up between SBC and BellSouth pending, Obermann told delegates at the
Gartner Mobile and Wireless Summit in London that more consolidation is to be
"The existing operator landscape is changing and that change will happen at
an increasing speed," he said. "I think in Europe there is a need for
consolidation. I think we'll have more consolidation – it's unavoidable."
But he added: "There's more rationality there now than five, six, seven years
ago. Companies are not rushing in paying those outrageous prices."
Greater consolidation is not the only big change the T-Mobile boss is
expecting in the mobile industry: Obermann said he expects the death of the
landline may not be greatly exaggerated and that prices for mobile calls will
start to fall into line with their fixed line equivalents.
"I'm not suggesting there won't be a premium for mobility," he said, "but the
spread [between mobile and landline pricing] is coming down."
Obermann added that he believes the cost of roaming will also follow a
similar downward path.
"I think there is a need for roaming fees to go down," he said. "Roaming is
becoming more and more competitive."
"People might ask: 'Why not reduce [roaming costs]?' We did, inasmuch as we
can without screwing our margins... I don't think there's a need for
regulation," Obermann added. "The EU and politicians are the voice of the people
and people think they're paying too much. Yeah, it's true but it's coming
EC Information Society commissioner Vivianne Reding recently promised
a shake-up in roaming charges, promising cuts of up to 60 per cent.
Obermann, however, said the European Commission has taken the wrong stance on
the issue. "I think the concept is wrong – they want to regulate retail rates...
they should look at wholesale rates."
Jo Best of Silicon.com reported from London.