Network suppliers to join UK spectrum battle

15 January 2013 | Kavit Majithia


UK network supplier MLL Telecom’s surprise bid for spectrum in the country’s auction next month is an indication that more network solutions providers will participate in nationwide auctions, according to the company.

MLL Telecom is one of seven bidders in the long-awaited 4G auction, which includes France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom joint venture Everything Everywhere (EE), BT, PCCW-owned UK Broadband, Hutchison Three UK, Vodafone and Telefónica’s O2.

The UK auction is expected to increase the amount of airwaves available by 75%.

Traditionally, government-led auctions largely revolve around a country’s largest mobile operators battling for spectrum, but MLL Telecom’s inclusion indicates 4G in particular has apparent uses for network suppliers.

“I think our inclusion will start a new trend,” said Karl Edwards, CCO at MLL Telecom. “There are more public sector auctions planned in the market and I think spectrum will ultimately move away from being a nice-to-have commodity, and be something that can be built and solutions can be managed around.”

Edwards believes spectrum will now attract smaller businesses and also lead to consolidation, with larger companies looking to acquire operations that have spectrum capabilities in the future.

Edwards confessed his surprise at the inclusion of PCCW and BT in the bidding process, but concedes MLL Telecom’s inclusion could also come as a surprise to its carrier customers.

“We are not looking to launch a consumerable 4G offering, but 4G offers MLL Telecom the opportunity to add a further string to our bow and to support our carrier customers, including BT and Vodafone at a network level,” said Edwards.

“There is now a lot of convergence in the mobile and data level, and we see a lot of that in the rural areas. We see 4G as the extension of supporting our existing customers.”

4G services are expected to be launched in the UK in Q2 2013.