(Alliance News) - Brussels has signalled it is open to European telecoms mergers to help fund the rollout of 5G and update ageing networks, a report said Wednesday.

The Financial Times noted Europe's biggest telecoms groups have been calling on the European Commission to help them invest billions in the rollout of 5G and full-fibre networks, including through in-market consolidation.

According to a draft white paper seen by the FT, the EC found that "fragmentation [of the sector] could impact the ability of operators to reach the scale needed to invest in the networks of the future, in particular in view of cross-border services".


The report supported shares in Vodafone Group PLC and BT Group PLC. Vodafone rose 4.0% to 66.70 pence each in London, while BT class A shares advanced 3.1% to 105.48p.

The highly anticipated report on digital infrastructure, which will set out Brussels' thinking on how to build resilient digital networks, is expected to be published next week and is under review by the European Union executive.

While its recommendations will not be legally binding, telecoms operators said Brussels' comments signalled it was willing to consider more mergers in the sector to bridge a funding gap, the FT said.

The EC is preparing to announce its decision on whether the proposed EUR18.6 billion Orange and MasMovil joint venture in Spain can go ahead, as early as next week.

By Jeremy Cutler, Alliance News reporter

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