UK mobile operator O2 has clashed with regulator Ofcom that it considers is providing preferential treatment to equal 3 in 5G.

Three UK was left something of a drawback at the rollout of 4G because of holding less desired range than competitions, especially EE that Ofcom controversially gave a headstart by permitting to reuse its present 1800MHz spectrum.

Ofcom has spent decades hoping to become a fantastic regulator and reevaluate UK spectrum possession to help level the playing area. Three and O2 suggested a merger to assist compete against bigger competitors EE and Vodafone, however, the agreement was blocked over worries that reducing the amount of operators to three could decrease market competition.

Three was given something of a helping hand from Ofcom since they hold 140MHz of 5G-friendly spectrum, such as one 100MHz neighboring block.

Ofcom itself states 5G is more”likely to do best with big, contiguous blocks of spectrum,” but another benefit is that it reduces equipment cost as operators may use one antenna, instead of many for rings which are far apart.

The regulator has suggested to defragment the 3.4GHz — 3.8GHz radio spectrum bands, but only 120MHz complete is up for grabs; yet maybe not sufficient to provide any other community a neighboring holding of over 80MHz.


Ofcom has suggested spectrum trading one of the operators to help tackle the problem in what it expects to be a reasonable way:

“To be able to ease defragmentation of this 3.4-3.8 GHz band, we’re ready to impose a limitation on winners of less than 20MHz of 3.6-3.8 GHz spectrum to bidding just for the upper or underside of their 3.6-3.8 GHz ring at the mission phase of the auction.

Additionally, we’re also minded to incorporate a discussion period, within the mission phase of the auction, through which winners of 3.6-3.8 GHz spectrum could have the chance to agree that the assignment of frequencies at the 3.6-3.8 GHz band between themselves.”

Under the proposal, the new allocations have to be agreed. Another suggestion, when the first fails, is that there could be partial arrangement among a subset of winners.

In a competitive marketplace, Ofcom’s suggestion is highly-ambitious and has received criticism from a number of those operators.

O2 asserts Ofcom is putting”much too much religion in the secondary marketplace to handle fragmentation” and cautions there is a”high risk that trading one of the MNOs won’t solve the circumstance.”

Additionally, O2 calls out Three UK as being an unfair beneficiary of Ofcom’s policies:

“Regrettably, Ofcom’s policies thus far have favoured a operator, permitting it to set a’kingmaker’ place, where it can try to extract windfall profits from rivals in return for transferring its own spectrum, or expect anti-competitive rents from obstructing rivals from getting bigger neighboring blocks.”

Three UK is due to its favorable place in 5G and continues to be advertising as such to customers, despite being put to be one of the last to start its own network.

International 5G criteria body the ITU says’accurate’ 5G needs 100MHz of 5G range; allowing Three to assert it is the sole UK carrier providing the entire experience. “5G is a game-changer for Three, and naturally I’m excited that we’ll be the sole operator in the united kingdom who will provide authentic 5G,” stated Three CEO Dave Dyson at June.

Three UK intends to establish 5G in 25 cities before the end of 2019: London, Birmingham, Bolton, Bradford, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Coventry, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Reading, Rotherham, Sheffield, Slough, Sunderland, and Wolverhampton.

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