UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has given permission for mobile operators to trade wireless spectrum in the 900MHz, 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands between themselves, effective from 20 June 2011 onwards. In a statement, the watchdog declared: ‘By allowing operators to trade their spectrum, Ofcom believes that there will be greater opportunity to use it more efficiently. Ultimately, it is believed that this will bring benefits to citizens and consumers in terms of improved mobile services.’ The move follows a consultation begun in February 2011.
The announcement clears the way for Everything Everywhere, the joint venture between Orange UK and T-Mobile UK, to offer 25% of its 1800MHz allocation to a rival, which was a condition of the French-German parent companies’ UK business merger under European Commission stipulations. The Financial Times writes that Everything Everywhere’s competitors O2 and Vodafone are the most likely contenders to add to their existing 1800MHz allocations with the additional bandwidth, the value of which is estimated by Citigroup analysts at GBP450 million (USD728 million). The Commission ruled that Everything Everywhere could keep the proceeds of the spectrum sale as long as it was completed before a next-generation frequency auction scheduled by Ofcom for next year, or else the 1800MHz frequencies would go into the auction and the government would keep the revenue. Ofcom confirmed the speculation, saying: ‘The first trade is likely to be the sale of … 1800MHz spectrum owned by Everything Everywhere.’