Vodafone has launched its second attack on Ofcom in the space of a week, accusing it of over-engineering the 4G auction and claiming there is no case to answer for spectrum to be reserved for Three.
The deadline for responses to Ofcom’s latest proposals for the forthcoming 4G auction is today (22 March). Among the proposals was a plan to safeguard a four operator market by reserving a range of different spectrum portfolios across the bands up for auction. While a fourth operator could emerge, with Virgin Media expressing interest, many in the industry expect it to be Three.
The spokesperson said the proposals had brought the industry closer to a fair and open auction. However, he told Mobile: ‘Ofcom should stop trying to over-engineer the release of new spectrum to run the next generation of mobile internet services and run a fair and open auction. That will ensure the speedy rollout of 4G services, which will benefit consumers, businesses and the wider economy.
‘The structure of the auction prevents the sort of strategic bidding the regulator suggests could be used to prevent Three getting the spectrum it requires. In addition, Three is backed by a multibillion-pound business the size of Barclays Bank so has plenty of resources to take part in a fair and open auction.’
The operator’s latest criticism of Ofcom comes after its UK CEO Guy Laurence accused it earlier this week of ‘taking leave of its senses’ in granting Everything Everywhere provisional permission to refarm its 1800MHz spectrum for 4G.
Vodafone hit out at that decision today's statement, accusing Ofcom of acting with 'unwarranted haste' in granting permission. The spokesman said: 'The regulator has always stressed that competition is in the best interests of consumers and the British economy yet last week it appeared to all but agree to grant the largest player in the market a headstart on the next generation of mobile internet services. Allowing Everything Everywhere to press ahead before the rest of the industry has a clear path towards the introduction of 4G services could seriously damage competition in the UK.'
Editor: Graeme Neill