back to article Three to lawyer up unless Ofcom intervenes in spectrum market

Three has renewed calls on Ofcom to intervene in the UK's mobile spectrum market, warning it could lawyer up unless the regulator curbs the proportion of airwaves owned by Vodafone and BT's EE in the forthcoming auction. Dave Dyson, chief executive of Three UK, said: "The UK has the most imbalanced spectrum distribution of the …

  1. zaax

    More spectrum does not equal more bandwidth, all Three needs to do is to make cell smaller, and add cells to were there is none.

    1. Steve Todd

      There's a balance

      More towers cost (lots) more money. Building more, smaller towers helps in dense urban areas, not so much in rural. Then there's the NIMBYs to consider.

      1. leexgx

        Re: There's a balance

        EE can do it as they have a massive amount of blocks of 3g and 4g

        Three and other networks cant as they don't have enough frequency blocks to do it (on 4G)

        when o2 got 3g on the 900 band they they went mad with pole masts that sit in between the 2100 masts

        i do wish the O2 and 3 merger had been allowed as that would of given EE somthing to compete with (and well emm vodafone to bother adding more 3g and 4g coverage, vodafone has grate 2g coverage outside of cities),, it would of made 3 Very good as 3 and O2 don't have any mast sharing agreements so if merge had happened both masts allowing 3 and 02 access it would of likely surpassed EE in overall coverage (at the moment i would Not tust my 3 phone to work reliably over the UK where as EE as my main phone hardly find places where it does not work, but where it does not work O2 is normally there)

    2. Commswonk

      ...all Three needs to do is to make cell smaller, and add cells to were there is none.

      Two points: firstly there is no magic switch to make a cell (i.e. its coverage) smaller*; secondly without additional spectrum adding cells might be something of a challenge.

      * It's not entirely impossible, but network design isn't based on dotting cell sites anywhere that takes the designer's fancy; their individual locations and performance have to be integrated into some sort of coherent whole.

    3. jerehada

      That's not easy. Say you manage to build a third more base stations do you think you would be able to compete with a third higher cost base? Moreover they share ran sites with EE through MBNL.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Had your chance?

    Spectrum went begging at the last auction, but Three didn't bother spending.

    Now they're whinging that they don't have enough??

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Had your chance?

      Perhaps it was the wrong end of the Spectrum?

      You do know that there are good bits and bad bits?

      Or perhaps the spectrum on offer was of no advantage to 3 in operating their business?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Had your chance?

      No one (including three) expected to be competing against a combined company BT/EE (I'd guess it's known in Ofcom/CMA circles as 'Sweetie', based on some loose reference to the Italian model of BT).

      With actually saying it, three are implying corruption is taking place, fingers pointing at the CMA decision, Ofcom advice.

      BT/EE merger shouldn't never have been allowed, they aren't distinct markets at all, mobile and fixed line speeds at BT/EE will have to keep some speed parity (joined at the hip), for BT to milk both equally.

      So the BT/EE takeover has the effect of being detrimental to the rollout of pure fibre 1Gbps+ fixed line broadband. The CMA decision was badly flawed and wrong, that the two companies BT and EE operated in distinct markets.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Had your chance?

        So the BT/EE takeover has the effect of being detrimental to the rollout of pure fibre 1Gbps+ fixed line broadband.

        As the typical 4G download speed is sub 20Mbps, I can't see a direct connection between the purchase of EE and the rollout of 1Gbps+ fixed line services, given the so obviously serve different markets. Also it would seem from the published details the takeover was largely funded out of new debt and shares, rather than any direct cutbacks to existing network investments.

        Additionally, given the relatively low level of take up of 80Mbps FTTC, with the vast majority of residential needs being satisfied with sub 40Mbps broadband, perhaps the lack of any substantive demand or application on the horizon that needs 1Gbps+ is the main reason why there is no rush to deploy 1Gbps fixed line broadband.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Had your chance?

        BT/EE merger shouldn't never have been allowed

        Tenses won't and negatives aren't..

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Had your chance?

          BT/EE merger shouldn't never have been allowed

          Very true, apologies for that. Choosing between the two I left both.

    3. Fiddler on the roof

      Re: Had your chance?

      Yeah that's right and if you don't stop going on about it they will tell their mum!

  3. M7S

    Will the insuffiency of Spectrum

    Prevent me, as an Earthman, hearing those deep voices?

    Dum dum dum, dum-dum-dum-dum

  4. Big_Ted

    Someone tell me why

    As we are going through with Brexit, like it or not, why cant the government and Ofcom just say this no longer involves the EU and Three can now buy O2 if both sides still want that.

    It would solve a lot of problems for the 2 smallest as far as spectrum is concerned plus help coverage for all their customers.

    1. paulf

      Re: Someone tell me why

      Firstly (and this is an important point that many Leave and Remain supporters still don't get) We haven't actually left yet! May hasn't even made an A50 declaration (currently scheduled for Wed 29 March) which is only the start of the negotiations, so for now it's business as usual and the UK is a member of the EU.

      Then - if those A50 negotiations turn up some deal to stay in the Single Market or the EEA or whatever that will be harder if we've waved through deals previously blocked by the EU competition authorities.

      Also - reducing four separate MNOs to three will harm competition and that means muggins paying more for mobile. It was bad enough when Orange and T-Mobile were allowed to form EE (reducing 5 MNOs to 4) which became quite dominant in comparison to the next biggest operator (Voda IIRC). Three have already shown they think they have pricing power by putting up their prices in recent months. That would only get worse if they acquired O2 and there was even less competition. Three has always traded on being the competitive upstart and losing that will only harm competition with prices rise for everyone.

      I think Three have a point on spectrum in so far as one operator (EE) shouldn't have almost half of it, but on merging with O2, colour me completely unconvinced.

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Someone tell me why

      why cant the government and Ofcom just say this no longer involves the EU and Three can now buy O2 if both sides still want that.

      Ignoring the fact that the UK is still in the EU, that won't happen as it requires Ofcom to do an about-face. Because, if you remember, it was Ofcom who went to the EU and effectively demanded they blocked the takeover. whilst okaying the BT/EE deal and being minded to okay the Sky/Fox deal, before the phone-hacking scandal erupted and effectively forced them to change their minds.

      I suspect Ofcom, quite likes having a 'big' BT which it can complain about and knock, probably because it is probably too scared to kick Murdoch...

  5. Drefsab_UK


    Three UK just goto 02 and say we are going to closes up in the UK hears a deal to take all our uk customer base and keep them on their current deals. Three transfers customers then shutdown down. Now thers are 3 Major Mobile operators. Now Hutchington come along and buy O2 and all the ex Three Customers oh look we now have what we wanted and as there were already 3 operators on the UK market we arnt reducing operators in the market so the buyout can happen. Oh and as we are the 3rd operator lets rebrand to on I dont know Three?

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