Dyson: Three has not ruled out legal action over spectrum cap

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Dave Dyson, CEO, Three: "Ofcom’s proposal is a kick in the teeth for all consumers and in particular for the near-200,000 people who signed up to the ‘Make the Air Fair’ campaign. “By making decisions that increase the dominance of the largest operators, Ofcom is damaging competition, restricting choice and pushing prices up for the very consumers that it is meant to protect. The mobile market is imbalanced and failing customers. Ofcom has shown little interest in tackling the problem. We will consider our response as a matter of urgency.”

Operator’s CEO has described Ofcom’s proposals as a “kick in the teeth”

Three CEO Dave Dyson has not ruled out the option of legal action following Ofcom’s recent proposals to cap spectrum holdings at 37 per cent in the next auction.

The regulator outlined the limit last month. Dyson (pictured), who has long argued a 30 per cent cap would benefit competition and UK consumers, described Ofcom’s policies as a “kick in the teeth”.

The latest rules will apply to the 3.4GHz band of spectrum, which is viewed as a major stepping stone towards 5G connectivity due for commercial release in 2020.

EE currently has a 42 per cent share of immediately usable spectrum, followed by Vodafone (29 per cent), O2 (14 per cent) and Three (15 per cent).

Dyson’s comments come as Three’s ‘Make The Air Fair’ petition to campaign for the 30 per cent cap hit 200,000 signatures. Dyson did not fully confirm the operator would appeal to the courts, but argued the process would not create any significant delay to the overall bidding process.

Next step

Speaking on a call to discuss the operator’s latest financial results, Dyson said: “We had hoped Ofcom would take a different approach in the next auction.

“Most people I speak to agree with my view that the industry is mediocre at best and, as we prepare to distance ourselves from the EU, it is fundamental to the UK’s future and long-term economic success that we have a world-class telecoms infrastructure.

“In terms of our next step, we are still considering whether we should ask the courts if Ofcom has acted reasonably. If we go down this path it will be a three-month process.

“Ofcom has stated the first 5G offerings will not be available until 2020. The setting of standards for 5G frequency bands will not be completed until then too. It’s a safe bet the spectrum auction will still take place with no negative impact on 5G rollout, even with a delay of a few months.”

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