H3G UK CEO calls for legislation to ensure upcoming spectrum auction is not delayed

5 Sep 2011

David Dyson, the new chief executive of the UK’s smallest mobile network operator by subscribers, Hutchison 3G UK (H3G), has reportedly called on the government to ensure that the sale of wireless spectrum next year is not delayed due to legal action being taken by rival cellcos. According to the Financial Times, the executive has claimed that there is a ‘significant risk’ that H3G’s competitors in the mobile sector may look to hold up the spectrum auction. Such claims comes after O2 UK in June 2011 hinted that it could launch legal action against the spectrum sale. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the cellco argued that some of the proposals amounted to state aid, and it claimed that the proposed rules for the auction could allow for discrimination against it; O2 argued that ‘spectrum floors’ proposed by Ofcom could see some of its rivals pay around GBP1 billion (USD1.62 billion) less for sub-1GHz spectrum than they would otherwise have to. With Mr Dyson also pointing to regulator Ofcom’s January 2011 decision to liberalise spectrum in the 900MHz and 1800MHz bands for offering 3G services as another reason that H3G’s rivals would be less concerned about any delays to the proposed frequency sale, he noted: ‘It is up to Ofcom and the government to take a strong lead to make sure that any potential disruption to the auction is dealt with effectively because O2, Vodafone and Everything Everywhere are all incentivised differently to defer that auction for as long as possible.’ For its part, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the body responsible for setting telecoms policy, has said it had instructed Ofcom to carry out the spectrum auction and was not considering any further action ‘at this time’.

United Kingdom, Hutchison 3G UK (Three UK)