Three has written a public letter to Ofcom CEO Sharon White calling on the regulator to introduce a 30% cap in the next spectrum auction.
The letter is the latest move made by the UK’s smallest network operator to attempt to redress what it sees as a spectrum imbalance in Britain’s mobile market.
Dave Dyson, Three’s CEO has repeatedly expressed the view that if it goes unaddressed the amount of spectrum owned by Vodafone and BT could distort the market in a way that would be detrimental to consumers.
The letter is signed by the CEO’s of City Fibre, Relish and the FCS and makes the point that ‘a 30% cap is not a radical intervention as it has no downside or negative consequences. A cap at this level will allow a competitive bidding process among existing operators and new entrants and provide a fair return to the public purse.’
Responding to the letter an Ofcom spokesperson, said: ‘We plan to publish a consultation in the autumn, which will set out our plans for the 2.3 - 3.4 GHz spectrum award.’
O2 signature missing
The big signature missing on the letter is that of O2 CEO Mark Evans. O2 are known to have reservations about the auction process, but have decided not to align themselves with Three directly.
Just before his departure former CEO Ronan Dunne explained the operator’s position: ‘The point on spectrum is that the regulator has made a clear position which it then brought to Brussels when discussing the O2/Three merger. It stated unequivocally that it needs to deliver a four player mobile market in the UK. It’s set out its stall and said that “this the strategy”, if that is the case they need to create a regulatory framework that supports that.
‘It needs to address the current flaws in the spectrum allocation which was caused by the merger of BT/EE. BT it is currently hoarding spectrum which it is not currently using and may not use for a considerable period of time.
‘The question is whether the rules of the auction allow strategic bidding which would allow others to foreclose on O2 or any other party.’