back to article UK mobe network Three launches legal challenge over spectrum auction

Mobile operator Three has launched a legal challenge against Ofcom's rules over the upcoming multibillion-pound radio spectrum auction. Last month Ofcom – the UK's comms regulator – decided to cap the maximum amount of mobile spectrum a British company can own at 37 per cent in its forthcoming auction, rather than the 30 per …

  1. BFG

    To paraphrase...

    ...Please bar two thirds of the competition from bidding so we can share the new frequencies with O2.

    1. ARGO

      Re: To paraphrase...

      Correct. But that's what is needed to fulfil OFCOMs stated aim of 4 sustainable network operators.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A better question...

    WTF did Ofcom do nothing to stop mergers resulting in one player in a supposed 4-player market having 40% of the available spectrum - and only reducing that to 37% this time around?

  3. David Roberts

    Do 3 mean

    That no one operator can buy more than 30% of the new spectrum so that all 4 operators are guaranteed to get something?

    I vaguely recall the obscene amounts of money paid in earlier spectrum auctions where the options were go high or die.

    It depends if Ofcom want 4 operators or just to get a short term windfall.

    Spectrum auctions are just another windfall tax on the consumer.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Do 3 mean

      >That no one operator can buy more than 30% of the new spectrum ...

      "We call on Ofcom to apply a cap of 30 per cent on the total amount of mobile spectrum any one company can own following the auction."

      Thus BT/EE would not be able to participate in the up coming spectrum auction and Vodafone would be restricted to gaining about 80Mhz of the 190Mhz being auctioned.

      >It depends if Ofcom want 4 operators or just to get a short term windfall.

      Both please - we want our cake and to eat it.

      It would not surprise me if post auction (and post Brexit) Ofcom change their opinion and decide a competitive market can be had with three operators ....

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    which has provided choice and value to customers for many years


    Data plans have usage caps. That's not value. Go elsewhere it Europe and see what value means. I'm on an 'unlimited' plan and even that has a 'fair use limit' - i.e. it's unlimited so long as I use it within limits. I kid you not. Ofcom is a toothless load of crap whose only purpose is to collect revenue for the government.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    choice and value

    "An Ofcom spokesman said: “Our auction will help support the UK’s four-player mobile market, which has provided choice and value to customers for many years."

    --> Our auction will help rake in billions for the government, which has fucked over consumers in the mobile market for many years.

    There, FTFY.

    I don't consider the black spot I'm sitting in right now in London's central business district on a Three mobile connection, to be "value", and I don't consider Vodafone's outrageous tarrifs (the only one with vaguely decent connectivity) to be "choice".

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've got three phones one for personal and two for business. One is on Three, one EE & one O2 and surprisingly the reception is best on Three followed by O2 then EE at home. At Work EE are still crap but O2 are better than Three. At my previous employers Three had no signal indoors for a while and this was bloody annoying. It wasn't much better outside either and after complaining to someone at the Three call centre I was put through to someone UK based. They took all my details my location and asked me to walk around giving reports on signal strength. They identified a faulty base station and it was fixed within a week whilst I was away.

    Ofcom should have made a cap before allowing BT to buy EE. I would happily ditch the EE contract if I could but it's a work one.

  7. Stephen T

    Three is just "game playing" the system. They've already acquired 50 MHz of valuable spectrum at 3.4 GHz by buying the fixed wireless operator "Relish". One suspects Three are deliberately delaying the 3.4 GHz auction just to give themselves a head start with rolling out 5G.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      You might find the bar chart here a useful aid:

      Even if three got the entire 40Mhz at 2.4Ghz they would still be a minor player behind BT & Vdf. Three's cap would mean that this holding would effectively be divided between Three and O2, giving each a significant capacity increase.

      I expect that BT will aim to win 85Mhz of spectrum (17 lots) at 3.4Ghz - taking full advantage of the allowance under the cap. I expect Vdf to bid for at least 40Mhz (8 lots) and most probably will be seeking to gain 16 lots, leaving crumbs for Three and O2.

      The only question mark at the present time is whether Telefonica/O2 will actually participate in the auctions, given the level of investment Telefonica has been making in O2-UK these last few years...

      Also you should remember that effectively Three and O2 are mobile-only operators and neither of whom have the necessary scale of operation or spectrum to challenge BT and VDF in delivering multiplay services.

      So if my assessment is anywhere close to being correct, post 2020 the UK mobile scene will be dominated by BT and Vdf with Three and O2 being bit part players. Naturally Ofcom's 4 operator market doesn't specify if the operators are equals and hence it can tick the 'success' box against the 4 player market...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I call upon OFCOM to take back all the sold off spectrum, and to then lease it back to the carriers. By controlling the spectrum they would have far more power to take action against the bad behaviours of all of them, be that price gouging, poor coverage etc. etc. Then you wouldn't have this problem, each time spectrum became available it could result in renegotiation of leases, and allow a good balance among all parties.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      >I call upon OFCOM to take back all the sold off spectrum

      Well there is the small matter that no one is talking about namely, the 3G spectrum auction in 2000 was originally for 20 year leases...

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