Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Ofcom allows Three to merge spectrum ahead of 5G launch

By Chris Kelly, Total Telecom
Monday 17 December 18

Three's competitor's say that the deal is 'a very poor outcome' for the UK mobile sector

The UK's telecoms regulator, Ofcom, has stated that it will allow Three UK to merge two separate blocks of spectrum ahead of the company's 5G launch next year. Three UK's wholly owned subsidiary, Broadband UK, holds two distinct sets of spectrum in the 3…

The UK's telecoms regulator, Ofcom, has stated that it will allow Three UK to merge two separate blocks of spectrum ahead of the company's 5G launch next year.

Three UK's wholly owned subsidiary, Broadband UK, holds two distinct sets of spectrum in the 3.6Ghz band. The company owns two 84MHz blocks at 3605-3689MHz and 3925-4009MHz. The merging of the two blocks will provide Three UK with 100MHz of contiguous 5G spectrum with which to launch its 5G services.

"UK Broadband requested a number of changes to this licence concerning the lower frequency block (3605 – 3689MHz), including: shifting it down by 5MHz, surrendering 4MHz of spectrum in that block, and changing the applicable technical conditions," said Ofcom in an online statement.

Three greeted the news with enthusiasm saying that the decision should be implemented as soon as possible.

"Three and UKB are very supportive of Ofcom's provisional view that ti is both appropriate and proportionate to vary UKB's 3.6GHz in each of the ways suggested by UKB; and that the proposed variation is also in line with Ofcom's statutory duties, including to promote competition and the efficient management and use of spectrum," Three said in a statement to the press.

Unsurprisingly, Three's competitors, namely O2, EE and Vodafone all objected to the change, saying that it gave Three an unfair market advantage. O2 said that the decision represented "a very poor outcome for the UK", with the results of the variation agreement "transparently benefitting one mobile operator (and its customers) at the expense of all other operators and consumers".

The UK is expected to launch 5G services in Q4 2019.  

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