FUD surrounds new U.K. 3G spectrum auction

The PR departments of mobile operators and MVNOs within the U.K. are working overtime to ensure that the regulator, Oftel, is correctly briefed as to the dire consequences of the planned 3G spectrum auctions favouring particular groups.

The telecom watchdog's plan would allow the four major mobile operators--Vodafone, Orange, O2 and T-Mobile to use their existing 2G spectrum for 3G services. This has caused controversy because they are restricted from offering 3G services to their customers on spectrum that was allocated for 2G services.

The FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) being spread by the established players is being mainly aimed at newcomers like Google Mobile who could bid for 3G spectrum. However, the upstart operator, 3UK, claims that it would be unfair if Ofcom allows the four major UK operators to use the spectrum allotted for 2G services to provide 3G services, since 3 has already paid a huge amount to procure a 3G license. The company suggests the splitting of the spectrum into five parts to ensure equal competition. 3 is also trying to insert a clause into the statement, asking the traditional operators to pay for any 2G spectrum that they use to provide 3G services.

Adding spice to this war of words is Oftel's view that the spectrum auction is not limited to mobile 3G but can also include other wireless broadband services such as WiMAX--something the established operators want to avoid.

For more on this story:
- The Times and CBRonline