Ofcom moves to help mobile group 3


UK regulators proposed rules for a long-awaited auction of radio spectrum, and signalled that they wanted to ensure that 3, the smallest British mobile network operator, could obtain a significant chunk of the airwaves.

Ofcom, the telecoms watchdog, outlined draft rules for the auction early next year, which should be the UK’s biggest spectrum sale to date. The spectrum is suitable for rolling out new mobile networks based on a fourth-generation wireless technology called LTE, which supports fast web browsing on smartphones and tablet computers. Consumers in several other countries, including the US, Japan and some European nations, are already enjoying the benefits of 4G networks, but a legal dispute between Britain’s mobile operators over spectrum ownership has delayed the construction of high-speed infrastructure in the UK. The UK’s four mobile network operators – Everything Everywhere, O2, Vodafone and 3 – desperately need more spectrum to cope with booming consumer demand for bandwidth-hungry smartphones. However, 3, which is owned by Hong Kong’s Hutchison Whampoa, has expressed fears that its larger rivals could try to outbid it in the auction. If 3 failed to secure enough spectrum, it could struggle to continue as a network operator.

Ofcom moves to help mobile group 3 Ofcom Proposes Limits in U.K. Spectrum Auction to Ensure Four Operators (Bloomberg) Ofcom outlines auction rules for 4G spectrum (Financial Times)