O2 UK expresses concerns over Everything Everywhere’s 1800MHz refarming plans

26 Mar 2012

UK mobile network operator O2 UK has reportedly echoed the displeasure voiced by a number of other operators regarding regulator Ofcom’s backing for Everything Everywhere’s proposed launch of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology using the 1800MHz band.

As reported by CommsUpdate earlier this month, Ofcom published its provisional conclusions to Everything Everywhere’s January 2012 frequency refarming request, in which the cellco requested permission to deploy LTE using 1800MHz spectrum it already holds. In its response, Ofcom determined that allowing the cellco to do so would be ‘likely to bring material benefits to consumers, including faster mobile broadband speeds and – depending on how Everything Everywhere uses the spectrum – potentially wider mobile broadband coverage in rural areas.’ Further, the watchdog also noted that it did not believe that allowing Everything Everywhere to re-use its frequencies would distort competition in the sector. As such, Ofcom said that it would be prepared to allow the use of the spectrum for fourth-generation services, subject to a consultation on the matter.

With Vodafone having last week having expressed concern over the support for the refarming plan, which would allow Everything Everywhere to inaugurate 4G services ahead of its rivals, O2 has now argued that such a move could hinder the establishment of a ‘competitive market environment’ for services utilising next-generation mobile technology. In a statement on the matter, O2 UK noted: ‘From the very start of this process, Ofcom has said that the UK must retain a competitive market environment and that it will remove the ability for operators to behave strategically over spectrum allocation … To this end, Ofcom’s auction proposals had much to commend them, and we were minded to support a small spectrum reservation for Hutchison or a new entrant, if Ofcom could make a stronger case for four players. However, we are concerned that Ofcom’s other proposal to allow one operator to launch 4G early on its existing spectrum is contradictory to its objective of delivering a competitive market environment with four competing players. This could expose the process to further risk of delay.’

United Kingdom, EE, O2 UK, Ofcom