back to article Guess what's missing from Ofcom's big MoD spectrum sale ... YEP, coverage obligation

Ofcom has opened a consultation (PDF) on plans to auction Ministry of Defence spectrum next year – but the watchdog has failed to include coverage obligations in the proposals, despite controversy over mobile "notspots". Bidders are being asked to comment on proposals for the auction of spectrum in the 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz …

  1. Otto is a bear.

    And the market will do what.

    If there was money to be made in providing high quality wireless communications to remote areas, I suspect the market would have already done it. I somehow doubt any supplier, on there own will be altruistic enough to invest significantly, for effectively little return. How this auction will help, I can't see, no matter how cheap the licences are.

    Corporations are very good at bending public service obligations, finding reasons why not, or even saying, ok fine us, it's cheaper. Taking away a licence is a hollow threat, because just think how the customer base would react to the politicians suggesting it.

    The only way high quality rural communications will work, is by the communities part funding it. This is basically what happened with the Railways, sure many failed and were subsumed by larger companies, but the infrastructure remained and provided service. Luckily the government has already funded the expensive bit of the landline network, so actually communities funding their own infrastructure won't be that expensive. Some more entrepreneurial businesses already have, but they won't be able to afford spectrum licences. Another approach might be to treat these frequencies in the same way Taxi and PSV radio licences are sold, to allow those rural SMEs to build the networks. I suspect however the treasury are looking for some big bucks in short order.

  2. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    What an absolute fucking scam...

    "Here's a piece of air - we've labelled this particular one '3.2GHz' please give me a gazeeelion pounds for it."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What an absolute fucking scam...

      "Here's a piece of air - we've labelled this particular one '3.2GHz' please give me a gazeeelion pounds for exclusivity, we'll prosecute and potentially bankrupt any who uses it."

      There, fixed that for you.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No coverage obligation?

    Darn right. We'll have none of that socialist nonsense here, thank you. After all, this is a democracy with one dollar*, one vote.

    (* = or £, Euro etc as appropriate).

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    inetp govenrment

    So the goernment giving Mobile operators an easy opportunity to ignore the issue they have been talking about. Great. God help them, if it were raining soup, they'd be out with forks! (attirb James Joyce)

    1. edge_e

      Re: inetp govenrment

      Maybe they're being clever.

      It's worth more without strings and there's nothing to stop them adding them later.

      You're probably right though

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Coverage obligation should be based on land mass

    Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said this week: "It can't be right that in a fifth of the UK, people cannot use their phones to make a call....."

    That's what happens when coverage obligations is based on population coverage and not land mass.

    Scotland is 32% of the land mass of the UK but only 8% of the population. Therefore O2 could reach their 98% coverage obligation but have little or no coverage in Scotland.

    Luckily for us Scots, the one firth of not spots are not just in Scotland, so its a pain/talking point for the rest of the UK.

    Although I suspect the in a lot cases where there is no coverage but population, the problem will be planning authorities and landlords not wanting mast in their back-garden. If you want mobile coverage in your pretty little sub-urban towns, you are going to have to put up with a mobile phone mast being put up next to your kids schools, local health practice, memorial gardens, and other area of "outstanding natural beauty",

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: Coverage obligation should be based on land mass

      More than half of Scotland's population lives within a few miles of the M8, so put your masts there, and that is 4% of the UK population covered.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Coverage obligation should be based on land mass

      "98% coverage of the population" is a completely useless and stupid measure of network coverage.

      Mobiles phones are mobile, the clue is in the name. Mobile devices move about and they can go where there is population living and they can and do easily go where the population isn't.

      So, I've got great coverage at home, which is great but I've already got a landline, broadband and WiFi. So thanks Networks. 10 miles up the motorway in the sticks, where no people live I've got nothing. If I need maps navigation, or there's a breakdown or an accident then forget it.

      So, pull the spectrum licenses from these networks that ignore their obligations, just like with rail franchises and the principle of ULL, pass the infrastructure and license over to another organisation.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There's a reason why it's missing

    If you put a coverage obligation on that spectrum it'd never sell.

    3UK have 2100 MHz spectrum and it's taken them ~15,000 sites to reach 95% population coverage.

    2300MHz propagation is slightly worse, so add a few thousand sites to match that figure.

    3500MHz is good for about a mile. Put a coverage obligation on that and you're heading towards 100k sites.

    Will anyone feel like buying 3.5GHz spectrum and then paying to build 100,000 sites? Even if there were such a madman around, the chances of getting that many sites through planning is nil.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There's a reason why it's missing

      You don't put the coverage obligation on the new spectrum. It is much too high frequency to be used for rural coverage.

      You put the coverage obligation on the company that wins the new spectrum. If they want to get access to that sellable-for-a-high-price very high speed/volume access in central London, they need to find a way to give some coverage to rural UK.

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