While it's likely these potential deals would require approval from both UK and European regulators, O2 is currently seen as the less complicated option. EE is Britain's biggest carrier, allowing it to command a higher price than its rival. However, its size could prove to be a problem as watchdogs would seek to block anti-competitive acquisitions. After all, the market would consolidate and there would only be three major carriers to choose from. Three bought O2's business in Ireland, so it has previous, and its owner once used to control a major stake in Orange, which is a 50 percent owner of EE.
O2 doesn't have that problem; it doesn't own nearly as much spectrum, but if it was combined with Three's allocation, it could achieve parity with its rivals. Although, after O2 sold off its broadband business to Sky, it may still trail other providers as they transition to a quad-play model. Christmas is coming, and that means more spending -- for BT and Hutchison, those bills could run into the billions.