H3G UK calls for caps on next year’s spectrum auction

9 Mar 2011

With the UK government set to auction spectrum in both the 800MHz and 2600MHz bands next year, the market’s smallest mobile network operator in terms of subscribers, Hutchison 3G UK (H3G UK), has called on the authorities to impose a cap on how much spectrum any single operator can own below the 1GHz bandwidth. According to the Financial Times, H3G UK CEO Kevin Russell has claimed that should it fail to secure frequencies in the spectrum sale, it could find itself being swallowed up as the sector consolidates. The call has in part been prompted by Ofcom’s decision to allow H3G UK’s rivals to utilise their existing 2G spectrum for third-generation services; as previously reported by CommsUpdate, in January 2011 Ofcom announced it had liberalised spectrum in the 900MHz and 1800MHz bands with immediate effect, allowing operators to offer 3G services using both frequencies. Such reform in effect means that H3G UK’s rivals – O2 UK, T-Mobile UK, Orange UK and Vodafone UK – have larger amounts of spectrum for 3G services, although Ofcom insists that the move has not distorted competition. H3G’s call for capping spectrum has been supported by Everything Everywhere, the joint venture between T-Mobile UK and Orange UK, but both Vodafone and O2 have opposed such a move.