BT rivals urge Ofcom to implement spectrum cap

4 Oct 2016

Rivals of British fixed line incumbent BT have called on telecoms regulator Ofcom to restrict the amount of spectrum that any company can own, ahead of an upcoming frequency auction, the Financial Times reports. In a letter to Ofcom, the chief executives of TalkTalk, CityFibre, PCCW-owned Relish and the Federation of Communications Services have suggested a 30% cap on the amount of spectrum a company can hold, arguing that such a limit would have ‘no downside or negative consequences’, while ensuring all four of the country’s mobile network operators (MNOs) can compete. This proposed limit would stop BT, which owns cellco EE, and Vodafone – which already hold the most spectrum – from bidding strategically to restrict the amount of frequencies that O2 UK and Three UK could get.

Ofcom, for its part, has yet to decide on whether to implement a cap as part of a spectrum auction that was originally scheduled for this year, but was pushed back as a result of the negotiations linked to the now-blocked acquisition of O2 UK by Three UK owner CK Hutchison. Commenting on the matter, the report cites an unnamed Ofcom spokesperson as saying: ‘We plan to publish a consultation in the autumn, which will set out our plans for the 2.3GHz-3.4GHz spectrum award.’