Three and EE could pool together their chunks of 800MHz spectrum with the businesses examining ways to best use their spectrum holdings.
Both operators emerged from the 4G auction earlier this year with a 2x5MHz piece of 800MHz spectrum, which has been seen as too low a holding for viable next generation use. Speaking at a briefing this morning, Three CEO David Dyson said he had tasked his network team with finding the best way of using the spectrum, which included talks with EE. He said: 'The direction to the tech team was to start with a blank piece of paper and come back with the most efficient way to roll out the network. We have had a conversation with EE about pooling spectrum but we can't tell whether that will be the conclusion.'
Spectrum at 800MHz has greater penetration than higher frequency spectrum, allowing operators to offer better indoor coverage. However, on its own, both Three and EE's spectrum holding has not been seen as sufficient. Earlier this year Telecom Italia CEO Franco Bernabe said 2x5MHz was not a large enough holding.
Dyson said that pooling was not a foregone conclusion and it is likely that any sort of partnership would be subject to approval from Ofcom. He added: 'There's an opportunity to put faster speeds through a big chunk of spectrum but that would come with the potential downsides of both companies mixing their traffic up.' EE was unavailable to comment.
Meanwhile, Dyson also revealed it was stepping up its rollout of the new format stores. Currently 30 of Three's 349 store strong retail portfolio has the 'more welcoming' design. Three's CEO said he wants to have 100 new look stores in place by the end of this year. He said: 'They help customers get the most out of their smartphones or whatever other products they get from us.'
He said it was in talks with other manufacturers about retail partnerships. It currently has special Samsung branded areas in its London Oxford Street and Solihull stores.
Author: Graeme Neill