Cellcos blast Ofcom 2G plans

UK cellcos have hit out at Ofcom plans to allow carriers in the country to re-farm 2G spectrum for 3G services, claiming it will limit competition.
Everything Everywhere claims the plan will reinforce current market distortions in the sub 1GHz sector, and called on the regulator to re-level the playing field when it auctions 4G spectrum early next year.
The operator claims the UK’s digital future is at risk if Ofcom fails to ensure competition is maintained under the new plans, V3.co.uk reports.
While competitors Vodafone and O2 hold sufficient spectrum in the 900MHz frequency, Everything Everywhere – the combination of Orange and T-Mobile UK – only owns spectrum in the 1800MHz band, which V3 notes requires more base stations to achieve the same result as the lower frequency.
Hutchison Whampoa–owned 3 UK echoed Everything Everywhere’s complaint, with CEO Kevin Russell telling Bloomberg consolidation is likely in the UK market if Ofcom doesn’t protect competition.
The UK regulator unveiled its 2G re-farming strategy last week, claiming the move brings the country in-line with European Commission directives and would improve broadband coverage in rural areas.
Ofcom responded to the complaints by stating it will continually monitor the competitiveness of the UK market, and could consider spectrum caps when auctioning 4G spectrum, V3 said.