Sunday, 20 August 2017

3UK still mulling legal challenge to Ofcom 5G spectrum rules

By Nick Wood, Total Telecom
Thursday 03 August 17

CEO Dave Dyson plays down potential disruption of judicial review, as 1H revenue jumps 10%.

3UK chief Dave Dyson said the operator has yet to decide whether to mount a legal challenge to regulator Ofcom's 5G spectrum rules, but suggested that such a move would not prove too disruptive to the U.K.'s 5G ambitions. "We are still considering whether we should ask the courts to give an independent view of whether Ofcom has acted reasonably…

3UK chief Dave Dyson said the operator has yet to decide whether to mount a legal challenge to regulator Ofcom's 5G spectrum rules, but suggested that such a move would not prove too disruptive to the U.K.'s 5G ambitions.

"We are still considering whether we should ask the courts to give an independent view of whether Ofcom has acted reasonably. If we were to go down this path – and to be clear, we haven't made any decision yet – it would likely be just a three month process from beginning to end," he said during a financial results call on Thursday.

Ofcom last month detailed its plan to allocate 2.3-GHz and 3.4-GHz spectrum. It includes capping the amount of immediately usable spectrum that any one operator can hold at 255 MHz, and capping the overall amount of spectrum expected to be usable by 2020 at 340 MHz – equal to 37% - per operator.

EE, which along with parent BT has accumulated the most spectrum, said caps are unnecessary, whereas O2 and 3UK said the caps fall short of what's needed to secure competition.

At the time, 3UK said it would consider calling for a judicial review of Ofcom's rules, attracting criticism from those concerned it could delay the rollout of 5G.

Dyson played down the risk in a results call on Thursday.

"By way of context, in February Ofcom stated that the first 5G commercial offerings are not expected until 2020. Also, the setting of standards for the frequency bands that will be used for 5G will not be completed until 2019," he said. "It's a very safe bet that even with a delay of a few months, the spectrum auction would still have taken place in good time so there would be no long-term negative impact on the rollout of 5G in the U.K."

His comments were made following the presentation of 3UK's first half financial results.

Revenue in the six months to 30 June jumped 10% year-on-year to £1.16 billion (€1.26 billion), thanks mainly to a 4% gain in services revenue, and a 31% surge in handset revenue. However, EBITDA fell slightly to £341 million from £348 million a year ago due to higher customer acquisition and retention costs.

3UK's active customer base increased 9% to 9.99 million, while its total registered customer base came in at 12.01 million, up from 10.85 million a year ago.

5G, spectrum, and the U.K.'s regulatory landscape are among the key topics up for discussion at Connected Britain 2018, taking place at the Business Design Centre, London, on 19-20 June 2018. Click here to find out more.

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