Motorola Solutions’ acquisition of Airwave, the operator of the UK’s emergency services communication network, was unconditionally cleared by the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) today (1 July 2016). The announcement by the CMA concludes its investigation. The full text of the decision has not yet been published, but ‘will be available shortly, according to a message on the CMA website.
Motorola Solutions completed its acquisition of Airwave, the largest private operator of a public safety network in the world, on 19 February 2016. The reason the CMA looked at the acquisition is because Motorola Solutions is the largest manufacturer and solutions provider in the global professional mobile radio market.
It is also one of the main providers of the forthcoming £1bn Emergency Services Network (ESN) – a 4G LTE service, which is due to begin replacing Airwave from September 2017 with 12 UK regions transitioning to ESN between then and 2020.
Motorola is the Lot 2 User Services provider for ESN, managing voice and data services and applications for fire, police and ambulance users. The 4G network is being provided by the Lot 3 Mobile Services provider – the UK mobile network operator EE.
Motorola now owns the current Airwave emergency service network, and it has a key role in its successor network, which will overlap with Airwave from September 2017 until 2020. As the Lot 2 provider, Motorola also has a major role in certifying devices and applications on the ESN network – including its own devices and those of its device manufacturer and critical communications solutions rivals. For these reasons, the CMA investigated the Airwave acquisition.
At this Phase 1 decision juncture, the CMA had three options: clear the merger; start a Phase 2 inquiry (which can last up to six months); or give the parties five working days to provide undertakings that would resolve the CMA’s concerns about the merger. However, as reported above, the CMA unconditionally cleared the merger.