Ofcom has launched proposals that will allow operators to trade radio spectrum for the first time.
The move follows the Government Direction which came into force on 1 December.
Under the proposals, which cover spectrum at 900MHz, 1,800MHz and 2,100 MHz, operators will be able to make offers to other operators for spectrum.
Everything Everywhere is required to give up a proportion of its 1800MHz spectrum under the conditions for the T-Mobile and Orange merger.
An Everything Everywhere spokesman said: ‘Whilst we welcome today’s announcement from Ofcom, it comes as no surprise, and follows on as a matter of course from the Government’s recent Direction.’
Ofcom CEO Ed Richards said: ‘This is an important milestone in the modernisation of spectrum management in the UK. It comes in response to the fast pace of change and innovation taking place in the mobile communications sector, which is placing increased demands on spectrum. One important way of meeting this demand is making the acquisition of spectrum as flexible as possible.’
A Three spokesman said: ‘'Spectrum is the fundamental asset that enables the mobile internet and without careful competitive allocation both competition and consumer interests are put at risk.
‘We welcome Ofcom’s assertion that competition is crucial, but with a finite supply, spectrum is as much a strategic asset as a commercial one. Operators rarely trade spectrum unless forced to do so.
‘Refarming of 2G spectrum, originally gifted by the Government, for 3G use without pro-competition measures has created huge competitive distortions in the UK market for mobile data. Other markets including Germany, France and Italy, have moved to address this, at least in part, through reallocation.
‘Three welcomes Ofcom’s commitment to blocking moves that further distort competition and urges it to address those created by 2G refarm as soon as possible.’