UK operators deny attempts to delay spectrum auction

Everything Everywhere, Vodafone and O2 have denied attempting to delay the UK spectrum auction

Vodafone, Everything Everywhere and O2 have hit back at claims that they have been trying to stall the UK spectrum auction that is scheduled for 2012.

The operators were accused by 3UK’s new chief executive David Dyson of being motivated to delay the auction, in an interview with the Financial Times. Dyson cited Ofcom’s decision to given the three operators permission to reallocate spectrum that was previously used for basic phone calls and data activities, such as web browsing, as the reason for the firms being incentivised to push back the auction.

However, all three operators have denied that they were pushing for the auction to be delayed.

Vodafone UK said it was actively engaged with Ofcom to ensure that the auction provides the best outcome for consumers, but hit out at the regulator’s decision to impose auction caps on operators to guarantee competition.

“Spectrum is a valuable national resource and we do not believe that it should be guaranteed to some operators – as the current proposals suggest – but sold in a fair and open auction,” said a Vodafone spokesperson.

Meanwhile, despite appealing to the Competition Appeals Tribunal to force Ofcom into varying its 900MHz licence to allow 3G deployment earlier this year, O2 UK said now that it wants the auction to happen as soon as possible.

“We are looking forward to taking part in the spectrum auction and want to be able to bring 4G services to our customers as soon as possible,” said an O2 spokesperson.

And earlier this year, Everything Everywhere put out a statement claiming that there are several of Ofcom’s detailed proposals it “disagrees with fundamentally”.

“Unmodified, we believe that they will limit competition amongst the operators by undermining the long term prospects of the MNOs who do not currently hold critical sub-1GHz spectrum, which offers significant cost and service advantages. This will not be in the best interests of the UK consumers,” the firm said in June this year.

However, the firm has now said that it doesn’t believe its actions can be construed as an attempt to delay the auction. “We do not believe our recommendations have delayed the auction in any way,” said a spokesperson. “We are keen to have the auction as soon as possible but understand that Ofcom intends to consult further on the auction design and other issues including DTT interference.”

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