Ofcom proposes a series of minimum and maximum spectrum caps for its auction of 4G spectrum to ensure a level playing field for all operators in the country.
The UK regulator perceives a risk that one of the nation’s four wholesale operators could steal a march on rivals by snapping up more spectrum than they need, and has outlined five combinations of minimum and maximum allocations to prevent that happening.
It also proposes capping the maximum spectrum allocation for each operator to safeguard the future competitiveness of mobile broadband services, and plans to include a minimum coverage requirement in one of the 800MHz licenses on the table, which will require the carrier to guarantee 95% mobile internet coverage by 2017. The regulator claims the move should ensure that rural homes are not bypassed by mobile internet networks, and that flagging the requirement early will allow operators to factor it into network costings.
Ofcom chief Ed Richards says the proposals should secure the “best use of the spectrum” on sale, encourage investment and boost competition.
“The auction is not only critical to the future of the UK mobile telecommunications market but it is also of significant importance to the wider economy,” he notes.
The UK government ordered Ofcom to begin preparing for the 4G auction in mid-2010, targeting end-2011 for preparations to be completed. Ofcom aims to conclude the auction and issue licenses by mid-2012.