Feeds

All 4G telcos must hit 98% coverage, Ofcom told

MPs not happy with EE flogging free frequencies, either

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Ofcom should demand 98 per cent coverage from all 4G operators, rather than 95 per cent from one, and claw back some cash from EE for the spectrum it was given.

So says The Ministry of Fun, which took governance over Ofcom earlier this year. A committee of MPs has been looking at the 4G auction plans and concluded that the regulator has done a pretty good job, though not quite good enough as it wants to see greater coverage requirements as well as some money from the sale of 1800MHz spectrum which was allocated to Everything Everywhere's parents.

Everything Everywhere is being forced to flog off the spectrum as part of the merger approval which saw T-Mobile and Orange combining to create the company. Orange and T-Mobile were both allocated radio spectrum at 1800MHz for 2G services, and both bought 2.1GHz spectrum for 3G, so to avoid a glut the EU demanded that EE sell some.

Which leads us to the sight of a foreign-owned company (EE is owned, in equal proportions, by the Germany-based T-Mobile and France Telecom) making money selling an asset which was freely given by the UK government – something the chair of the committee, John Whittingdale MP, finds unacceptable:

"Government and Ofcom should find a way to ensure that at least some of the proceeds are invested for public benefit," says his statement on the subject.

EE does pay an annual rental on the band, but nothing close to the market value. Clawing that asset back from the company will be legally fraught, though as the committee notes the whole mega-auction process is a minefield of vested interests:

Those mobile network operators with sub-1 GHz spectrum play down any advantage it may offer, stating that they are not immediately able to use it for 3G because the spectrum is already in use by 2G customers, who cannot simply be cut off. Those operators without sub-1 GHz spectrum claim to be frozen out of the market. These irreconcilable claims highlight the difficulties faced by Ofcom in overseeing competition in the spectrum market place.

In general the committee approves of Ofcom's proposals for a mega auction next year, though comments from the rest of the industry have thrown them back into draft until the end of the year. Ofcom reckoned one 4G licence should come with a coverage requirement, while the committee reckons all licences should be required to cover 98 per cent of the UK.

Coverage requirements are getting more important as operators increasingly share infrastructure, and thus stop competing on coverage, but such details are a small matter compared to the other issues that need to be resolved before the mega-auction can go ahead. The full report is here. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
Broadband sellers in the UK are UP TO no good, says Which?
Speedy network claims only apply to 10% of customers
Virgin Media struck dumb by NATIONWIDE packet loss balls-up
Turning it off and on again fixes glitch 12 HOURS LATER
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
Ofcom tackles complaint over Premier League footie TV rights
Virgin Media: UK fans pay the most for the fewest matches
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
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.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Managing SSL certificates with ease
The lack of operational efficiencies and compliance pitfalls associated with poor SSL certificate management, and how the right SSL certificate management tool can help.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.