Three CEO: Regulation may stifle operator innovation

Three CEO: Regulation may stifle operator innovation

Innovation and differentiation in the mobile industry is in danger of being stifled by Government regulations according to Three CEO David Dyson.

Ofcom was commended by the chief executive for its intervention on spectrum and termination rates to facilitate a ‘more competitive mobile market’, although he said that regulations should not be to the detriment of competition between operator rivals.

Giving his keynote speech at the Westminster eForum, Dyson said: ‘Too often Ofcom's interventions have been delayed or derailed by legal challenge to the detriment of consumers. If Ofcom can intervene to drive competition I confidently believe consumers will benefit without the need for micro management.

‘Competition has been sustained in the mobile market because the playing field is level, the rules are fair and there is room for innovation. But imagine if there wasn’t this room for innovation because regulation required all operations to have the same elements in every plan. There would be no scope to be different and this would damage competition and innovation and drive up prices.’

He added: ‘The Government and Ofcom need to focus on levelling the playing field by fixing switching, continuing to allocate spectrum fairly and by regulating to reduce the cost of transmission, sites and wholesale roaming. Regulators and policymakers need to resist the temptation to pre-determine the coverage, the service and the policies we provide to our customers.’

Last month, the operator announced a host of new tariffs, giving customers free access to 0800 numbers and cheaper rates to 084 and 087 numbers, although Ofcom regulation states that all network operators will have to make freephone numbers free by June 2015.

During its latest business update in London, Dyson said that his firm had done a ‘lot of research’ when devising the new tariffs to emphasise flexibility and value for customers, and was part of his overall plan of focusing on people and building Three’s growing brand.

The operator also revealed its new insurance partnership with Asurion, Three Rescue. Dyson said it was designed to fit the ‘Three way’, and provided customers with replacements for stolen, lost and broken phones within 24 hours, while a specialist app will back up important data.

Three will also extend its ‘Feel at Home’ initiative, which allows customers to use their allowance across a variety of countries, over the next year. Dyson said: ‘We’ve seen a massive increase in terms of overseas usage recently.

‘Around 30% of people who have joined or rejoined Three cited Feel at Home as a major factor in their decision. It gives us the confidence and motivation to really push what we’ve done. We expect to see more countries added to the proposition and we’ll potentially have to be more creative to find solutions to overseas usage costs.’

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