Feeds

Will Ofcom have to stick up its hands on 4G auction?

Speed > fairness

High performance access to file storage

Comment Ofcom will do anything to avoid seeing the 4G auctions scheduled for next year mired in legal battles - but deciding to whom it would surrender will be tough.

The regulator has told the FT it stands ready to fight for its proposed 4G mega-auction, in the face of operators who seem keen to resort to legal action, but not at the cost of the auction schedule:

"We would of course stand ready to defend robustly our final decisions. But we consider that it is in the best interests of citizens, consumers and the companies operating in the sector that we move on, without additional delays, so that the frequencies can be put to good use," the regulator said*.

O2 and BT have both made it clear they consider that Ofcom's proposed mega-auction, which is scheduled for next year, constitutes illegal state aid to their competitors, and O2's response only just stops short of threatening legal action if the action goes ahead as currently proposed.

The idea of BT (former state monopoly) and O2 (handed spectrum for nothing, over which it now runs 3G services) complaining about state aid might seem laughable, but Ofcom's problem is that if it concedes to one operator then it's only going to upset the others - probably enough to launch court action of their own.

The disputes over spectrum allocations go way back: O2 and Vodafone got lovely spectrum at 900MHz for nothing, while Orange and T-Mobile were gifted slightly unlovelier 1800MHz bands, which they've now combined into a holding so large they'll have to sell some of it off.

That sale presents the interesting spectacle of the German and French governments (who still hold shares in Orange and T-Mobile, and thus EE) selling off something that they were given by the UK government for nothing: but we digress.

Three, meanwhile, feels slighted as the only network operator not to have received 2G spectrum, especially as that spectrum can now carry 3G and 4G services. Three claims to be entirely in favour of rapid 4G auctions, but no one is prepared to rule out legal action if they feel their grievances aren't being addressed.

As we've said before, the operators have nothing to gain by an early 4G auction. They'll have to stump up for spectrum and build infrastructure, so a delaying action based on legal challenges is very attractive.

Ofcom might signal that it's ready to negotiate, but successful negotiation needs shared motivation, and that's far from proven in this case. ®

* Ofcom has been in touch to clarify that this quote refers to the final proposals, which won't be published until later this year - so we don't yet know whom they will offend, though we can guess.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Feast your PUNY eyes on highest resolution phone display EVER
Too much pixel dust for your strained eyeballs to handle
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Report: Apple seeking to raise iPhone 6 price by a HUNDRED BUCKS
'Well, that 5c experiment didn't go so well – let's try the other direction'
Rounded corners? Pah! Amazon's '3D phone has eye-tracking tech'
Now THAT'S what we call a proper new feature
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Nvidia gamers hit trifecta with driver, optimizer, and mobile upgrades
Li'l Shield moves up to Android 4.4.2 KitKat, GameStream comes to notebooks
AMD unveils Godzilla's graphics card – 'the world's fastest, period'
The Radeon R9 295X2: Water-cooled, 5,632 stream processors, 11.5TFLOPS
Sony battery recall as VAIO goes out with a bang, not a whimper
The perils of having Panasonic as a partner
NORKS' own smartmobe pegged as Chinese landfill Android
Fake kit in the hermit kingdom? That's just Kim Jong-un-believable!
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.