Feeds

4G-auction rural notspot scheme would actually be illegal

Would mean lockout, massive subsidy

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Comment The Consumer Communications Panel has called for 4G money to be used to help build rural networks, which sounds eminently sensible but, as BT pointed out last month, would almost certainly be illegal too.

The CCP got huge amounts of publicity for its public response to Ofcom's ongoing consultation on the best way to sell off the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands in next year's mega-auction. That response calls for the 4G licences to have coverage obligations extending 2G networks into the remaining not-spots, but last month BT's response to the same consultation explained that such an obligation would amount to an illegal subsidy, not to mention that it would block new entrants from bidding next year.

The CCP's response (PDF, short and sweet) is a media-friendly single page, compared to BT's 43 pages and Telefonica's 101-page epic, ensuring the CCP response was more widely read. The brevity also removes the need to explain any details, limiting itself to vague calls for Ofcom to mandate that those bidding for 4G licences be obliged to help provide national 2G coverage.

That would, of course, exclude any new entrants from bidding – anyone without an existing 2G network (including Three) would be at a huge disadvantage. Even if such a bidder could license from a competitor, it would put the winner at a distinct disadvantage if they didn't have their own infrastructure.

BT pointed out that any coverage obligation could also fall foul of competition law as an illegal subsidy. A licence with coverage obligations will be less valuable, effectively taking money from the UK treasury and using it to build a privately-owned mobile network, which isn't allowed.

If we seriously want national coverage, for voice or data, then better to look to the Australian model, which saw the government building out rural coverage and wholesaling it to the network operators, but that would take government action rather than fiddling around with the auction conditions.

Complete national mobile voice coverage would be a nice thing, but there are better ways to get it than simplistic calls on the national regulator which don't stand up to a moment's examination. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
TEEN RAMPAGE: Kids in iPhone 6 'Will it bend' YouTube 'prank'
iPhones bent in Norwich? As if the place wasn't weird enough
Consumers agree to give up first-born child for free Wi-Fi – survey
This Herod network's ace – but crap reception in bullrushes
Crouching tiger, FAST ASLEEP dragon: Smugglers can't shift iPhone 6s
China's grey market reports 'sluggish' sales of Apple mobe
Sea-Me-We 5 construction starts
New sub cable to go live 2016
New EU digi-commish struggles with concepts of net neutrality
Oettinger all about the infrastructure – but not big on substance
PEAK IPV4? Global IPv6 traffic is growing, DDoS dying, says Akamai
First time the cache network has seen drop in use of 32-bit-wide IP addresses
EE coughs to BROKEN data usage metrics BLUNDER that short-changes customers
Carrier apologises for 'inflated' measurements cockup
Comcast: Help, help, FCC. Netflix and pals are EXTORTIONISTS
The others guys are being mean so therefore ... monopoly all good, yeah?
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.