Digital Britain: Network reponses



An O2 spokesperson said:

“Mobile phone and broadband technology has the potential to help address many of the major challenges facing the country – economic growth, climate change, and transforming the way public services are accessed and delivered.
“We want to see the UK’s digital economy fully realise its potential and so we welcome the publication of the Digital Britain Report and look forward to further discussions with the Government and Ofcom on how to implement the Report’s recommendations.”


An Orange spokesperson said:

“This process has presented us with a unique opportunity to resolve the historic spectrum imbalance that has been inherent in mobile since the 1990s, and will enable us to shape the future of the industry, ensure maximum competition in the market and enable all operators to have the spectrum they need to meet customers’ demand for high-speed mobile broadband services…

“A large amount of progress has been made towards achieving a solution, however… a number of key issues remain… If Vodafone and O2 can re-use [900MHz] spectrum to provide mobile broadband services before Orange is able to access and use 800MHz spectrum, it will give Vodafone and O2 a critical competitive advantage.

“[There is also an issue around] the ratio of 900MHz spectrum to be released in return for access to 800MHz spectrum. Vodafone and O2 may be required to release some of their existing 900MHz spectrum if they wish to bid for new 800MHz spectrum. If they are required to release less 900MHz spectrum than 800MHz that they will receive, it will also give them a critical competitive advantage.

“Orange is committed to investing in Next Generation Access (NGA) if the regulatory conditions are right. We want to work together with BT to implement a hybrid form of sub loop unbundling, involving shared equipment cabinets and co-ordinated rollout of infrastructure. This benefits both parties by allowing Orange to offer a service to our customers, whilst giving BT a guarantee of wholesale income and a means of reducing its costs. It will also benefit customers by providing a truly competitive retail market.

“BT must not be allowed wholesale pricing freedom, which is likely to raise both wholesale and retail costs and squeeze other ISPs out of the market. Reduced competition will lead to limited innovation, investment and higher prices which is bad news for consumers. But the right NGA regulation will promote competition, innovation and consumer choice.

“Important though fibre is for the future, the Government must recognise that existing copper lines will be the primary means of broadband access for the vast majority of the population for at least the next decade.

“It’s vital that the Government takes a holistic approach to addressing both fibre and copper networks. So when considering the fibre future, it mustn’t lose focus on ensuring the right regulation of existing copper networks. That means, for example, stopping BT from increasing local loop unbundling wholesale charges, whilst elsewhere in Europe they are reducing.

“As a brand so closely linked to the artistic and cultural landscape of Britain, we intimately understand the importance of the creative industries to the future of the UK economy…

“Consequently, we don’t want to stand in the way of rights holders enforcing their own commercial rights and therefore we would not oppose legislation which would require us to our customers when rights holders have accused them of engaging in unlawful file-sharing, which is in line with the approach voluntarily took both before and during the trial process created under the Memorandum of Understanding between ISPs and rights-holders, signed in 2008.

“To the extent permitted by data protection law, we would also be willing to maintain records of those most frequently accused of copyright infringement, to assist rights holders in taking legal action against the most active infringers. The customer data contained within these records would not be disclosed to the rights-holders without a court order.

“However, we would not agree to funding this process ourselves… We do not believe that Orange and the vast majority of our law abiding customers should be required to subsidise rights-holders’ actions.

“Orange would also be strongly opposed to any obligation to disconnect or disrupt the broadband service (by limiting download speeds) to alleged copyright infringers. This raises of myriad of legal issues and complexities, not least the fact that we would be uncomfortable taking on the role of judge, jury and executioner… The emphasis must lie with the rights holders.

“The Digital Britain report contains some interesting ideas about how to achieve universal broadband. We will need to consider the proposed scheme in detail to decide if this is the best way for Orange to provide mobile broadband services to our customers.

“Orange is disappointed that the Government did not seize the opportunity to provide nationwide universal broadband in the simplest and most cost effective way, by a re-allocation of the 900MHz spectrum, as we had proposed in our response.”


A Vodafone spokesperson said:

“Vodafone UK remains committed to addressing the complex future spectrum issues currently under discussion. We will continue to have talks with the government to find a solution which is in the best interest of our 18 million UK customers and their future mobile broadband needs.”


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Please note, other network responses to the Digital Britain report are pending.