Friday, May 25, 2012

Responses to Ofcom's Everything Everywhere 4G/1800MHz consultation

Ofcom this week published the responses to its consultation on Everything Everywhere's request to deploy LTE and WiMAX services using its 1800MHz spectrum holdings, in advance of the forthcoming auctions of 4G spectrum (as discussed in this previous post).

This from Everything Everywhere's response:
"Ofcom has proposed to vary Everything Everywhere's 1800MHz licences to permit the deployment and use of 1800MHz licenses for LTE and WiMAX as soon as possible, concluding that it would be in the interests of consumers and citizens for it to do so. Everything Everywhere strongly agrees with this view and considers that it would be consistent with Ofcom's statutory duties to agree to Everything Everywhere's request...Everything Everywhere therefore wholly supports Ofcom's intended declared intention to vary Everything Everywhere's licences for LTE as soon as possible, which will be to the benefit of consumers and citizens throughout the UK. A failure to do so would not only be inconsistent with Ofcom's legal duties, but would also be of significant detriment to consumers and the wider UK economy."
This from the Global Mobile Suppliers Association response:
"The UK is at serious risk of remaining as a non-participant in the 4G advanced mobile broadband market even as LTE is poised to enter the mainstream by end 2012, which would be most  regrettable, unless LTE network deployment in re-farmed spectrum is allowed. GSA applauds Ofcom's stated policy intention to permit deployments of LTE technology in refarmed spectrum, as requested by Everything Everywhere within their existing 1800 MHz spectrum allocation."
However, this is from Telef√≥nica UK’s response:
"The consequence of granting immediate liberalisation would be the creation of a monopoly provider of 4G national wholesale services for a period of at least 18 months and very likely substantially longer. This is an extraordinary step for a National Regulatory Authority to take, given its duty to promote competition and its stated policy of intervening ex ante to secure a four player 4G national wholesale market.  Any such proposal must raise prima facie competition concerns...we strongly urge Ofcom to reconsult fully and fairly on this matter in its entirety. Everything Everywhere accepts that it will not be ready to launch 4G until the end of this year, so there is plenty of time for Ofcom to consider the issue properly. A proper consultation, undertaken with a full and transparent view of the facts, supported by a rigorous cost-benefit analysis would enable Ofcom to make quicker and more substantial progress on its obligation to undertake an LTE authorisation processes for 900MHz and 1800MHz licences by the end of this year."
And this from Vodafone's response:
"Vodafone strongly believes that a competitive market in 4G services will bring long‐lasting benefits to UK consumers. Having launched these services in a number of other countries we would urge Ofcom to hold a full and fair spectrum auction as soon as possible so that all operators can access the necessary spectrum for 4G. Instead, Ofcom’s current consultation proposes to give an unjustifiable head start to the largest player which could seriously undermine competition in the UK market for many years to promote the interests of effective competition, Ofcom must not vary existing 1800MHz licences until it is satisfied that there are 4 operators holding sufficient cleared spectrum to deploy credible national 4G networks. This is consistent with Ofcom’s stated policy objective in both of its most recent spectrum consultations and would, in practice, require the release of new spectrum via the Combined Auction before any 1800MHz licences are varied. Such an approach would not eliminate the advantage EE has enjoyed from its longer period of spectrum certainty which will have allowed EE greater network planning and deployment time for LTE than any other player.  However, it would broadly equalise the timetable for the launch of LTE services, which was the clear intention of the EC when EE was first created."
Ofcom will publish a statement on the proposed variation as early as possible.

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