Guy Laurence shows anger at “head-start” given to UK’s largest operator, saying it could harm competition and delay the 4G spectrum auction
Vodafone CEO Guy Laurence (pictured) has launched a stinging attack on Ofcom and the government for giving the green light to Everything Everywhere’s (EE) plans to roll out 4G LTE services on the 1800MHz spectrum it already owns.
Laurence said: “Ofcom appears to have taken leave of its senses. The regulator has always stressed that competition is in the best interests of consumers and the British economy yet here it is all but agreeing to grant the largest player in the market a headstart on the next generation of mobile internet services.”
Laurence said that the decision not only gives EE a head start, but also gives the UK’s largest operator an incentive to use legal action to delay the 4G spectrum auction scheduled to take place towards the end of this year.
He said: “This decision leaves Everything Everywhere free to prevent anyone else from launching 4G services by bogging next year’s auction down in endless litigation.
“It has already threatened to do so once before. On Ofcom’s own admission, all the other players in the market require new spectrum in order to run LTE so Ofcom’s plan will deal a terrible blow to competition in the UK.”
He also claims the decision will widen the divide between areas which can get high-speed mobile broadband and those which receive little coverage.
“Vodafone UK shares the desire of both the regulator and the Government to see the next generation of mobile internet services rolled out quickly and placed within the reach of many more people in rural areas.
“But Everything Everywhere will be under no obligation to offer services to any rural areas. Ofcom’s plan risks further widening the digital divide in this country.
“We know the Government wants to be a friend to business but surely that shouldn’t mean giving the biggest player in the UK market such an undeserved advantage.”
Vodafone said it is not currently considering mounting a legal challenge to the decision and is engaging in the consultation process on the plans launched by Ofcom.
The deadline for operator submissions to the consultation is this Thursday (March 22).