UK Cellphone Chain in Fixed Line Challenge to BT

21 December 2005

Europe's biggest cellphone retailer Carphone Warehouse has thrown down the gauntlet to UK telecoms giant BT in the fixed line market.

In a double whammy deal, worth a total of £140.7 million ($248m; €207m), Carphone has bought OneTel from utility group Centrica and the British and Irish fixed-line businesses of Swedish firm Tele2.

As a result Carphone's TalkTalk phone service will see its customer base boosted to 2.4m, albeit well behind BT's 14m residential customers.

But, comments analyst James Enck: "BT should be a bit concerned" as Carphone is a "much more coherent and credible threat to BT than One.Tel and Tele2" would be on their own.

A BT spokesman airly describes the tieup of OneTel and Tele2 as "interesting" but plays down the deal's long-term impact: "These are companies that did not make much headway on BT as separate entities, so combine them if you like".

Data sourced from International Herald Tribune Online, Reuters and Bloomberg News; additional content by WARC staff