Three calls for Spectrum cap on EE

The UK's smallest mobile network operator, Three, is calling for regulators to rein in industry giant EE by setting a 30% cap on the proportion of airwaves an operator can own.

By introducing a cap, Three believes that there would be a boost in competition in the market place—as more spectrum equates to the ability to grow customer base by offering bigger bundles of data. Currently, Three has less than half the amount of spectrum that EE has allocated.

Three's Chief Executive David Dyson said that he wanted Ofcom to impose the 30% cap by the next auction (expected next year), as it would provide better balance in a market with four operators. He went on to claim that EE and Vodafone were not using all the spectrum they owned, which he sees as indicative of the companies purchasing airwaves to deny Three and O2 capacity.

Alex Buchan, Head of Wireless Technologies at the DTG said: "Three suggests that the move will encourage more efficient use of spectrum by ensuring operators don't purchase spectrum to block their competitors from using it. However, going forward with demand for mobile data being forecast by some to grow at rates of up to 60% annually and with coverage obligations expected to be included in any 700 MHz auction, it may be the case that operators cannot afford to leave any spectrum unused."

In May, the European Commission blocked Three from purchasing O2, on the basis that it would reduce options for consumers and increase prices. Computer Business Review has speculated that Three is challenging the allocation of spectrum as a PR offensive to avoid stagnation in the market. Ofcom has not yet commented on the challenge.

DTG Staff  |  19.09.2016

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