Ofcom plans to allow spectrum trading

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Proposed move will see spectrum traded freely between networks but is met by sceptisim in part from Three

Ofcom has released a proposal that will allow operators to trade mobile spectrum with each other depending on their specific needs.

The move has been dismissed in part by Three which says operators are unlikely to want to part with the spectrum they currently hold.

Covering the 900MHz,1800MHz and 2100Mhz frequencies, the proposal – according to Ofcom would increase flexibility and allow operators to respond more quickly to demand which is constantly increasing.

The regulator also announced it would post any proposed trades online, confirming that they are acceptable and then issue revised licences to implement the trades.

But Three believes the move still does not do enough to make the allocation of spectrum free and fair.

A Three spokesperson said: “Spectrum is the fundamental asset that enables the mobile internet and without careful competitive allocation both competition and consumer interests are put at risk.

“We welcome Ofcom’s assertion that competition is crucial, but with a finite supply, spectrum is as much a strategic asset as a commercial one. Operators rarely trade spectrum unless forced to do so.”

Three also re-iterated its view regarding the refarming of 2G spectrum which enables operators to use the spectrum traditionally used for voice and text for mobile data services.

“Refarming of 2G spectrum, originally gifted by the Government, for 3G use without pro-competition measures has created huge competitive distortions in the UK market for mobile data,” the spokesperson said.

“Other markets including Germany, France and Italy, have moved to address this, at least in part, through reallocation.

“Three welcomes Ofcom’s commitment to blocking moves that further distort competition and urges it to address those created by 2G refarm as soon as possible.”

Other operators said the move was in line with Ofcom’s ongoing approach to the spectrum issue.

An Everything Everywhere spokesperson said: ” We welcome the recent announcement on Spectrum trading from Ofcom, which comes as no surprise and follows on as a matter of course from the Government’s recent Direction.”

A statement from Vodafone said: “Vodafone has supported the liberalisation of spectrum in the UK for a long time.”

Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards (pictured) said: “This is an important milestone in the modernisation of spectrum management in the UK.

“It comes in response to the fast pace of change and innovation taking place in the mobile communications sector, which is placing increased demands on spectrum.”

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