Further mergers would halt Digital Britain, warns Meek

Further mergers would halt Digital Britain, warns Meek

Government plans to reallocate spectrum as part of its Digital Britain drive would ‘go back to the drawing board’ if another operator in the UK was to merge, Independent Spectrum Broker Kip Meek said today.

Speaking to Mobile, Meek said Government proposals to reallocate spectrum would not accomodate further consolidation among operators in the UK. He added: ‘There would have to be a going back to the drawing board obviously.’

Meek said the proposals he drew up, which the Government has adopted in its spectrum reallocation consultation document published last month, were based on an assumption of no less than four operators in the UK market.

The proposed merger of Orange and T-Mobile, announced in September, delayed the publication of the Government consultation document which had to be redrafted to factor in the possibility of only four operators in the market. However Meek said any further consolidation would halt the proposals. The proposals are key to the delivery of the Government's Digital Britain initiative to make mobile broadband available across the UK.

Meek commented: ‘We produced a set of propositions based on four or five operators. We had not thought in terms of a three operator universe – perhaps we should have but we didn’t. But the policy until now has been to encourage competition.’

The Government is keen to increase competition among operators, citing it as a key objective in its consultation document.

Meek said spectrum reallocation was more likely to expand the number of operators in the UK market. He said likely spectrum bidders include BT, Intel and Freedom4 Group.

John Strand of media consultants Strand Consult said further consolidation in the UK market was unlikely at this point. ‘There has been speculation about Hutchinson selling 3 but in this economic climate that is very unlikely and why should they sell when 3 is operating well in the UK.’

To read the rest of Mobile’s interview with Kip Meek see this week’s Mobile magazine

Written by Mobile Today
Mobile Today

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