Swedish kit vendor Ericsson has hit out at UK communications regulator Ofcom, claiming that the watchdog’s plans for the proposed 2.6GHz spectrum auction could devalue the frequencies on offer.

“There is a danger of spectrum fragmentation, which will take years to sort out,” said Mikael Halen, director of government and industry relations for the Swedish supplier.

Halen’s biggest concern is that Ofcom, as part of its technology and service  neutral stance, will allow bidders to chose whether or not they use TDD or FDD profiles in the spectrum they successfully bid for.

“There is a danger of interference between TDD and FDD solutions by doing it this way, which will lead to a poorer customer experience,” said Halen.

Halen prefers all regulators who are auctioning 2.6GHz spectrum, which runs between 2.5GHz and 2.69GHz frequencies, to follow the guidelines issued by CEPT (Conference of European Post and Telecommunication) in 2005. That is to allocate two chunks of 70MHz spectrum for FDD solutions (2.5GHz-2.57GHz and 2.62GHz-2.69GHz) and one slice for TDD (2.57GHz-2.62GHz). The spectrum in the UK is being made available in 5MHz slots.

By doing this, spectrum allocation will be harmonised across all countries leading to greater economies of scale, Halen claims. 

The WiMAX Forum is currently working on plans to enhance the performance of the 802.16e interface, which will include an FDD profile. Halen welcomes this effort, even though this will put WiMAX in a head-head battle with LTE, Ericsson’s preferred 4G route, which is designed to use both FDD and TDD modes.

“By having a FDD solution, the WiMAX camp will argue just as hard as we are doing on spectrum harmonisation,” he said.

Although it was originally scheduled for this summer, it is still unclear as to when the 2.6GHz auction will take place in the UK. Operators T-Mobile and O2 have taken legal action against Ofcom to stop the auction proceeding, because they say the UK regulator has not yet made it clear how much of the spectrum they currently use for 2G can be used for 3G. By not knowing this, say the two operators, they cannot properly value the spectrum in the 2.6GHz band.