Rating: Sees BT re-entering mobile space ‘super-Wi-fi hotspot’
The UK comms regulator, Ofcom, has finally announced the results of its 4G spectrum auction. The four existing UK mobile operators have won new spectrum and we have seen a subsidiary of fixed-line incumbent, BT -Niche Spectrum Ventures win spectrum, too. This means that BT has re-entered the cellular market after – in our humble opinion, the disastrous decision to float off its mobile arm – O2. But BT many not be planning to become the UK’s fifth national mobile network operator, according to John Delaney a research director for consumer mobile with IDC. Anyway, EE and Vodafone have acquired spectrum in both 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands, while Hutchison (3UK) and Telefonica (O2) only got 800 MHz spectrum. Niche Spectrum Ventures (NSV) only has acquired spectrum in the 2.6 GHz band.
According to Delaney, with only 2.6GHz spectrum, this would make it very expensive for NSV to roll out a network as a full-service, nationwide mobile operator because of the large number of base stations that would be needed.
“Rather, the spectrum that NSV has acquired indicates, perhaps, a strategy based on broadening wide-area access for customers of BT’s fixed-line broadband services – a sort of ‘super Wi-fi hotspot’.”
The really good news for the UK mobile network operators was that they didn’t have to pay much for the privilege of obtaining 4G/LTE spectrum.
The UK Treasury was counting on receiving about £3.5 billion for the spectrum but the total amount paid by the five successful bidders was actually £2.34 billion.
GoMobile News blames Ofcom entirely for this. Its decision to let EE operate a 4G/LTE service with spectrum it has already paid for took the wind out off efforts to pump up the value of the new spectrum.
One winner here, of course, should be 3UK. Whilst it ‘only’ acquired spectrum at 800 MHz, by about September 2013, it should also be able to offer 3G/LTE over 1800 MHz, too. Nice move.
Oh and tough luck to O2 because Ofcom has imposed a whole range of conditions on its licence which means it will have to reach quite strict coverage targets.
Read the Ofcom announcement in more detail here.