Mobile Operators Defensive Over 3G Auctions

UK’s 3G market is circumspect over Ofcom’s announcement on spectrum auction. The public sale, the first in six years, will involve the 2500-2690 MHz band, which the British regulator deemed compatible with 3G and mobile WiMax.

Although stating that it welcomed the proposal, O2 urged Ofcom to retain its current condition demanding that 3G operators extend service to 80 percent of the population. The company, along with Vodafone, urged the agency to study whether 3G services can tap the 2G spectrum, which could expand their cell sizes and allow them to provide better service to their clients. Ofcom chief technologist William Webb believed “refarming” spectrum is not feasible at the moment. According to Webb, such move could lead to competitive imbalances.

Pipex, meanwhile, supported Ofcom’s plans and expects new entrants and traditional players to bid for spectrum. Graham Currier, the ISP’s business development director, said there is high interest in the event among companies hoping to deploy WiMax. He declined, however, to confirm that Pipex, which is partly owned by WiMax champion Intel, will participate in the auction and state the company’s plans concerning WiMax.

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