Three UK demands concessions in spectrum allocation

11 July 2016 |

Three is causing waves with calls for strict limits on how much of the scarce radio spectrum its competitors can own.

Three is causing waves with its post O2 merger failure moves in calling for strict limits on how much of the scarce radio spectrum its competitors can own.

The campaign, which is led by Three chief executive Dave Dyson, has already been criticized by Vodafone, which is considering legal action legal options to prevent Ofcom changing the rules in its upcoming spectrum auction.

Jeroen Hoencamp, head of Vodafone’s UK arm, told The Sunday Telegraph over the weekend: “Of course, we will oppose it, and we are looking at it now.”

Any attempt by Ofcom to change the delicate balance of the radio spectrum holdings of Britain’s four mobile operators is also likely to face legal challenges.

The most likely of those would be BT, the owner of EE. It is understood that EE executives see Three’s campaign as a call for special treatment in what they see as a straightforward competitive auction.

Ofcom is due to publish proposals for the sale process in September.

Dyson said the regulator should prevent any operator coming out of the auction with more than 30pc of the total mobile spectrum which would mean EE, which has  over 40pc, would lose out as would Vodafone. Three is demanding 42pc of the spectrum be ringfenced in its favour.

Dyson said: “Our proposal is not that we get the spectrum below market value, but that we pay a fair price relative to the scale of the business. It is a scale game. You can afford to pay more if you have a bigger customer base.”

There has been speculation that Three’s owner, CK Hutchison, wants to pursue a merger with broadband provider TalkTalk to attain the scale it needs in the UK market.