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27 June 2011 ~ 2 Comments

4G spectrum auction – 3 responds to Ofcom

3 has reacted with anger to in respond to the latest Ofcom consultation regarding the huge 4G auction next year. The UK’s smallest mobile network lambasted the regulator’s decision to refarm the 900MHz band back in January as “potentially unlawful”. Overall, 3 clearly feels that it’s been shortchanged and isn’t afraid to show it even following the Government’s warning regarding the 4G auction last week.

Originally, Vodafone and O2 were both given the 900 Mhz band of spectrum at 900 MHz for their 2G services, while Orange and T-Mobile already won an auction for a huge amount of 2G radio spectrum at 1.8GHz. However, in January Ofcom changed the rules, royally pissing 3 off by allowing 3G services to be deployed in those frequencies too.

3’s issue is that it bought expensive 3G radio spectrum at 2.1 Ghz on the understanding that it was the only band where 3G services would be permitted. Now Ofcom have allowed 3G coverage on other frequencies, it severely devalues 3’s original investment as it is now much less scarce. Of course, as 3 has concentrated its investment in the 2.1 Ghz band, it has lost out compared to other the networks which own spectrum in other bands that have increased in value.

T-Mobile and Orange at least paid market rates for their 2G spectrum, and 3G at 1.8 GHz is still pretty theoretical, but 3G at 900 MHz is already supported by the latest handsets and O2 has wasted no time at all in rolling out 3G connections in its 900 MHz spectrum (in London at least). Given that the 900MHz spectrum never went up for auction 3 is, perhaps justifiably, miffed.

Now 3 has lost its appeal against the latest Ofcom ruling and it is demanding that they now use the upcoming 4G auction to address the balance in its favour. We can’t see it happening though. Ofcom has to hurry up and get the 4G spectrum auction sorted out as the UK is already lagging behind the rest of the world. It can’t afford any more delays over negotiations. However, 3 (and the other networks) will definitely delay the auction process as long as they can at the expense of their consumers just so they can save on immediate investment in spectrum and infrastructure.

Hopefully we’ll be seeing 4G in the UK soon though.

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20 June 2011 ~ 0 Comments

Ofcom reject O2 sabotage of 4G auction

The Government has warned the country’s mobile networks not to use legal action to try and delay the auction of 4G spectrum. The UK’s Culture Department said it was important the mobile radio spectrum was released “as soon as possible”.

This came in response to O2‘s claim that the 4G auction was “anti-competitive” under EU law, as it would allow rival operators to grab spectrum under the 1 GHz waveband at a cheaper price. It also claimed that this could cost taxpayers £1 billion.

Both O2 and Vodafone already hold some bandwidth under the 1 GHz range, and Orange and T-Mobile are eager to buy 4G space in the sub-1 GHz range too.

Ofcom published its bidding rules earlier this year, and O2 claimed they would allow competitors to grab the spectrum for £1bn cheaper in total, as those rules are designed to make it easier for all major operators to acquire sub-1 GHz bandwidth for 4G services.

In response, Ofcom said the main objective of its auction was to promote competition rather than maximise revenue for the government. It also claimed that it was in the best interests of companies, customers and taxpayers for the 4G auction to go ahead with no further delays. The Government reiterated this stance.

4G will offer mobile’s speeds close to current home broadband and is currently due to the rolled out in the UK in 2013.

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13 June 2011 ~ 1 Comment

Shameless Vodafone Egypt advert sparks outrage

After admitting to assisting the corrupt totalitarian government of Hussain Mubarak in Egypt as he violently attempted to crush the popular uprising, Vodafone have sunk to a new low.

Shamelessly, they have now attempted to claim responsibility for helping inspire the revolution in an advert. The three-minute commercial features images from protest rallies in Cairo’s Tahrir Square before claiming: “We didn’t send people to the streets, we didn’t start the revolution … We only reminded Egyptians how powerful they are”.

Vodafone is one of several firms in Egypt that agreed to shut off its mobile and internet networks in the early stages of the revolt as the government attempted to isolate anti-Mubarak protesters. It also allowed the Mubarak regime to send out bulk anti-revolutionary text messages to subscribers. It said it had no choice and has since apologised.

The firm is facing a series of legal challenges over what some critics have called its “complicity in dictatorship“. It is accused of passing on information about opposition activists to the Mubarak regime’s security services – a claim seemingly confirmed by Vodafone’s global head of content standards, Annie Mullins, in February 2009 but later denied by Vodafone Egypt.

Pro-change activists have condemned the advert as a “sickening” attempt to push up sales by “riding the revolutionary bandwagon”, and an insult to the hundreds who died in the struggle to bring down Mubarak. Meanwhile, a new website named I Hate Vodafone Egypt has rapidly become an online sensation.

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