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
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