BroadbandNetworks

Three, TalkTalk Want Consumers To Support Calls For 30 Percent Spectrum Limit

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Three, TalkTalk and others want mobile customers to contact Ofcom and will place pressure on CEO Sharon White with nationwide Make The Air Fair campaign

A campaign group backed by Three, TalkTalk and other communications providers and organisations is calling for consumers to urge regulator Ofcom to limit the amount of spectrum any mobile provider can hold at 30 percent.

Last week Ofcom said BT and EE would be unable to bid for the 2.3GHz spectrum up for grabs at auction next year because it already owned 45 percent of the “immediately usable” airwaves in the UK.

But Three and TalkTalk, both of which have been vocal critics of EE and BT in the mobile and broadband space, want this to be limited to 30 percent. Under current plans, BT is not banned from buying the 3.4GHz bandwidth earmarked for 4G.

Read More: What is 5G and why is it different?

Three Store 2

Spectrum battle

‘Make The Air Fair’ says spectrum is the “single biggest impact” on a network’s ability to offer a fast, reliable mobile service at affordable prices and is urging consumers to put their name behind a letter to the regulator and to use the #TellSharon hashtag on social media – a reference to Ofcom CEO Sharon White.

“The campaign will see Ofcom’s CEO Sharon White transformed – across various advertising channels – into a mobile superhero and the nation’s consumer champion with the power to protect competition,” said Make The Air Fair – a move that will increase the public profile of White and place pressure on her.

Other supporters include CityFibre, the Federation of Communications Services (FCS), Gamma and Relish. All the parties submitted a letter to White earlier this year.

At present Ofcom claims BT has 45 percent of the UK’s spectrum resources, Vodafone 28 percent, O2 15 percent and Three 12 percent. Make The Air Fair is citing figures of 42 percent for BT, 29 percent for Vodafone, 15 percent for Three and 14 percent for O2.

“The UK mobile market is broken at a critical time when it should be leading and not lagging almost all other developed countries,” said Three CEO Dave Dyson.

Competitive market

“Spectrum is a national asset that should benefit every citizen.  If it’s all controlled by one or two massive businesses then you can’t have effective competition and everyone loses out.  This is the moment for the British public to stand up and fight for real choice and better mobile services.”

“As a challenger in our market, CityFibre is wholly aligned to the change this campaign seeks to achieve,” added Mark Collins, director of public affairs at Cityfibre. “The regulator must ensure that the upcoming auction is designed to improve services for all.”

Silicon has approached Ofcom, BT and Vodafone for comment.

Ofcom set aside spectrum for a “fourth operator” at the last major auction of airwaves in 2013 in order to maintain competition. This was won by Three, but the move by Ofcom resulted in legal challenges and delays to the process.

Three has hinted it will return to its role as mobile underdog following the failure of the proposed £10.25 billion merger with O2, while TalkTalk said earlier this year it was “unambiguously” reprising its position as broadband challenger.

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