Ofcom has released more details of its plans to defragment 5G spectrum in the 3.4-3.8GHz band, but O2 says that the plans will allow Three to establish a ‘kingmaker’ position
UK mobile network operator, O2, has criticised Ofcom’s decision to defragment C-band 5G spectrum at next year’s auction, according to reports in the UK press.
O2 says that the Ofcom proposal would hand an unfair advantage to Three UK, who already holds a 100MHz block of contiguous spectrum, while other operators’ spectrum is comprised of smaller blocks.
“Unfortunately, Ofcom’s policies to date have favoured one operator, [Three UK], allowing it to establish a ‘kingmaker’ position, from which it can attempt to extract windfall gains from rivals in return for moving its spectrum, or otherwise expect anti-competitive rents from blocking rivals from acquiring larger contiguous blocks,” O2 told journalists from ISP Review.
Under Ofcom’s proposal, operators who purchased 20MHz or less of spectrum in the 3.6-3.8GHz would be restricted to spectrum in the upper or lower echelons of the band, ruling out the possibility of operators bolting on additional spectrum to their existing portfolios.
Ofcom said that it intended to introduce a ‘negotiation’ phase at the end of the auction process, during which operators can agree where best to place their winning spectrum bids. However, this would require unanimous agreement between the operators, who will all be jockeying for positional supremacy in a highly competitive market.