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UK networks respond to Ofcom’s 4G auction plans

Baffled by the regulator's lengthy report
Tue Jul 24 2012, 13:58
Mobile mast

UK MOBILE OPERATORS have been quick to respond to Ofcom's latest proposals for the auction of the 4G spectrum, although they told The INQUIRER they were baffled by the telecoms regulator's 1,000 page report.

Ofcom's latest report, which was released earlier today, outlines the regulator's plans to begin auctioning the 4G spectrum later this year with an aim to finish in early 2013. This means, if all goes to plan, that UK consumers will be able to take advantage of next generation 4G connectivity by the end of next year.

O2 seemed satisfied with Ofcom's latest 4G proposals, although it told us it will need to read the regulator's lengthy report before commenting further.

A spokesperson said, "Ofcom's detailed rules for the auction represent a significant step towards 4G launch in the UK. While Ofcom has taken a number of our suggestions on board, they are combined with other changes to the previous proposals.

"We will need to study the package in detail before responding."

Vodafone also told us that it was still making its way through the 1,000 page report, but seemed pleased with Ofcom's decision to open up the spectrum to a fourth operator in order to ensure competition.

The network said, "A competitive market for the next generation of mobile internet services will bring substantial benefits to British consumers, businesses and the wider economy. Ofcom appears to have created a mechanism to deliver the spectrum needed to run competitive 4G services and we welcome the work it has done.

"We also support the regulator's desire to see 4G services delivered to as many people as possible. However, we will obviously need to study today's lengthy documents to make sure they deliver the fair and open auction that this country needs."

Everything Everywhere isn't quite as pleased as its rivals however, telling us that there are some parts of O2's proposal that it doesn't agree with.

A spokesperson said, "Today's publication of the 4G auction rules is a crucial step towards bringing  the benefits of faster mobile speeds and better connectivity to Britain, as well as stimulating £5.5bn investment into the UK economy.

"While there are still some elements of today’s proposal which we don’t think are in the interests of competition or consumers, we are pleased that Ofcom is moving in the right direction and we recognise that we need to get this process moving now before the UK falls further behind the rest of the world.

"However the auction is only one step towards bringing 4G to Britain. Everything Everywhere is committed to bringing 4G to the UK this year, and the next milestone will be the regulator's response to our request to roll out 4G over our existing 1800MHz spectrum without further delay."

Three was keen to tell us that it wants to ensure its place as the market leader when it comes to data, suggesting it will ensure that it, and not Virgin Media, gets a slice of the 4G spectrum.

A Three spokesperson told us, "Ofcom's decision on the structure of the spectrum auction will have a lasting effect on the choice of services and value available to mobile consumers.

"We are working through the detail of this very substantial document to evaluate what it means for both consumers and competition in the UK mobile market." µ


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