Orange has added a further twist to ongoing debate within the UK over the future sharing of the valuable 900MHz spectrum. The company's head of spectrum strategy, Nicolas Ott, has called upon the UK government to share equally the band between the major UK operators, and not to leave the current owners, Vodafone and O2, with the lions' share.
The current thinking from the UK telecoms regulator is to ask for Vodafone and O2 to return 15 per cent of the spectrum, a suggestion Orange finds unsatisfactory.
But to tempt the government down the road of equally dividing the spectrum, Orange is offering to fund next generation broadband access through its fixed-line assets. This, according to the company, would see it providing broadband coverage to over 90 per cent of the UK population using its copper infrastructure, with the 900MHz spectrum then being utilised for areas harder to reach with fixed lines. However, Orange has made the offer conditional on a guarantee BT will not put up its wholesale prices.
Ott has dismissed statements from Vodafone and O2 that sharing the 900MHz spectrum would be too complex, and has countered this argument by stating Orange would pay for the fixed network. "Other operators don't have the size of our fixed network in the UK and if they want to be on ours then we will do it."
The UK regulator is hoping the operators can hammer out a deal among themselves over spectrum sharing. If nothing is agreed, then a decision will be imposed across all operators.
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