Ofcom has today (20 June) given the go-ahead for operators to trade the rights to their spectrum in a move aimed at increasing capacity and delivering faster and more reliable services.
The new regulations, which cover spectrum at 900MHz, 1800MHz and 2100MHz, are aimed at giving operators added flexibility as the data crunch hits.
It will allow operators with a greater need for spectrum such as Three to make offers for spectrum from those who need it less. Ofcom is hoping that this added flexibility will help operators to respond more efficiently to demand.
As part of a wider initiative to promote improvements in mobile services, the Government directed Ofcom to make mobile spectrum licences tradable in December 2010. Ofcom has now made the regulations necessary for this to happen.
Ofcom will be responsible for the administration of spectrum trades – publishing the details of proposed trades online, confirming that they are acceptable, and then issuing revised licences to implement the trades.
Under the regulations, Ofcom must take into account whether competition is likely to be distorted before deciding whether or not to consent to a trade of mobile spectrum.
A Three spokesman, said: "'pectrum is the lifeblood of smartphones and the mobile internet and for those with surplus holdings it is also a strategic asset, so voluntary trading is the exception. This move simply allows those who have been gifted access to public spectrum to profit from it, with no benefit for UK taxpayers.
'Ofcom’s ambition to deliver faster and more capable services to consumers is best served by a truly competitive allocation of this public asset.'