Vodafone is allowed to merge its mobile network in Australia with the fixed network operator TPG Telecom. That gave Vodafone Australia on February 13, 2020, The Australian federal judge John Middleton has thus overturned a decision by the anti-trust authority ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission). A merger "would not significantly reduce competition", Middleton justified the verdict. The regulator has one month to appeal.
Vodafone Hutchison Australia will receive 50.1 percent, while TPG's stake will be 49.9 percent. Vodafone Australia, a 50:50 joint venture with Hong Kong's Hutchison Telecom, had around 6 million mobile customers and a 19 percent share of the market when the agreement was signed in August 2018. TPG served 400,000 mobile customers as MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) at the time and operates Australia's second largest fixed network. The Vodafone-TPG joint venture is valued at $ 15 billion in Australian dollars ($ 10.8 billion).
The ruling questions the dominance of Telstra and Singapore Telecommunications Optus in the Australian market. TPG initially suspended its 5G expansion in Australia after the ban on the use of Huawei equipment. "This merger gives much more certainty that there will be a strong 5G player on the market. We have confirmation that we will have three 5G players"said Iñaki Berroeta, head of Vodafone Hutchison Australia, during a conference call with analysts.
Both the United States and Australia directly or indirectly prevent their network operators from using the technology of Chinese equipment suppliers like Huawei to build and test the next generation of the mobile network.