5/13/2009 3:06:00 PM
Digital Britain spectrum proposals meet mixed reception
The Government’s independent spectrum broker Kip Meek’s proposals for spectrum allocation ahead of the Digital Britain report have met a split reception from operators.
While Vodafone and O2 are understood to be pleased that they do not have to give up any of their 900MHz spectrum band, T-Mobile and Orange have indicated that Meek’s proposals do not go far enough.
Meek recommended an overall spectrum cap on all operators, which will restrict 1800MHz holders T-Mobile and Orange from acquiring large amounts of the 2.6GHz spectrum that is due to go up for auction in mid-2010.
The 800MHz spectrum, freed when analogue is switched off also in 2010, will have coverage and access obligations around it.
T-Mobile said it ‘strongly’ believed that 900MHz spectrum needs to be re-allocated in order to support a continued competitive market in 3G services.
A spokesman added: ‘We are studying the details of the recommendations published today and will respond to the Government as part of the ongoing process.’
Orange said it is also ‘reviewing’ the proposals. A spokeswoman added: ‘Orange has always believed that the Digital Britain project finally provides the UK government with an opportunity to create a level playing field and address the historic imbalances regarding network spectrum that have been inherent within the UK telecoms industry since the mid-1990s.
‘While some of the options in today’s proposals might provide some partial solutions to these issues, clarity on these matters will only be confirmed following the detailed implementation of the plans - something that still has to be agreed upon.’
Meanwhile, O2 and Vodafone were more positive, despite restricted access to the new 800MHz spectrum band that will become free when analogue TV is stitched off, if they choose to keep their 900MHz spectrum.
A Vodafone spokeswoman said: ‘The report is a constructive piece of work given this is a complex and contentious issue. We are pleased it confirms our belief that there is no case for the release of 900 MHz spectrum.'
However, she added: ‘Although the principles make sense, there is still a lot of detail to be agreed. We look forward to working with the Government to finalise this in the weeks ahead.'
O2 UK CEO, Ronan Dunne, said: ‘This report is a significant step forward in making Digital Britain a reality and is good news for the UK. Spectrum allocation is a complex question. Throughout the process we’ve looked for a solution that delivers the Government’s vision for Digital Britain, while ensuring we can continue to deliver a great customer experience.
‘We are pleased with the progress of the discussions and that there can now be a public debate on these proposals. None of this would have been possible without the energy and imagination that Kip Meek has brought to the process. We look forward to contributing to the consultation.’
The Digital Britain report will be published on 16 June. Prior to that, operators will be able to respond to Meek's proposals and a solution will be imposed by the Government if they fail to agree.
Ofcom, which will be responsible for the regulation of any changed legislation, said: ‘Ofcom will carefully examine the proposals in the independent spectrum broker report and will consider our response in due course.
‘In particular, we will consider the impact that the proposals would have on competition and the impact they would have in securing citizen and consumer interest.’