Friday, 24 February 2017

O2 accuses EE of 'criminal' hoarding of mobile spectrum



The UK's biggest mobile phone operator, EE, has been accused of 'criminal warehousing' of precious mobile phone spectrum by rival, O2.
 
O2's chief executive Mark Evans used his first broadcast interview since taking the role to explain his demand that industry regulator Ofcom cap, at 35%, any company's holding to ensure a competitive market.


He spoke out after the watchdog's proposed rules for the next spectrum auction, due later this year and to include space earmarked for 5G in future, fell short of his hopes.


There will be two spectrums - or bands of available airwaves which would allow the owners to offer their customers faster mobile download speeds - up for grabs. One will enhance current 4G speeds.


Ofcom has proposed that a limit of 42% ownership be placed on the 4G spectrums available for "immediate use", meaning EE would not be able to bid as it currently has a 45% share.


However, that restriction would not cover the 5G sale.


Mr Evans told Ian King Live his proposal of a 35% cap would include O2, which has a 12% share currently.


He said: "If you'd like a competitive market, then everyone needs access to the airwaves and if we do that then customers will continue to get great value."


On EE's holding, he added: "They're not using it. It's criminal. The airwaves in this country are very scarce, and if someone is warehousing that spectrum then that means the customer's experience is not as optimum as it could be."


In announcing its proposed rules for the latest auction, which were put out to consultation, Ofcom indicated it was happy that strong competition would be served.


EE, which was bought by BT in 2015, said in a statement that it had paid more than £5bn for spectrum over the last two decades "allowing us to build the best mobile network in the UK".


It added: "Our customers should not be made to suffer because O2, or any other operator, has failed to adequately plan for, and invest in, the numerous spectrum auctions that have been held since 2000, holding back 4G coverage expansion while spending money on other 'priorities'."


In his interview, Mr Evans also commented on speculation that O2 could be sold off, or floated, by owner Telefonica by insisting that was a matter for its parent company.




BBC    News.