Three asks Ofcom to limit BT's mobile dominance

Three and other mobile operators ask Ofcom again to limit BT's spectrum ownership

Fibre broadband

A week after Ofcom announced its decision to ban BT from bidding on half the frequencies available at the next spectrum auction in 2017, Three is once again campaigning to reduce BT's over dominance in the UK mobile market.

Three has been asking its customers to send letters to Ofcom to push for limits on BT and Vodafone's overall spectrum ownership.

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The campaign, called "Make The Air Fair", is backed by Three, TalkTalk, CityFibre, Gamma, Relish and the Federation of Communication Services.

As part of this campaign, new advertisements with a cartoon superhero image of Ofcom CEO Sharon White started appearing on buildings around London.

Three and other mobile operators have been campaigning for a 30% cap on spectrum for months. In October, they sent an open letter to Sharon White asking for this cap to be established.

At the present moment, BT owns around 45% of the UK's usable spectrum, followed by Vodafone (28%), Three (15%) and O2 (14%).

BT's acquisition of EE at the beginning of the year made the situation worse, increasing its dominance over the UK's mobile market even further.

Last week, Ofcom said it has decided to reduce the amount of spectrum BT can acquire in the next spectrum auction, allowing the mobile operator access to the 3.4GHz spectrum, but not to the 2.3GHz.

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The 3.4GHz is not immediately usable, but should be once 5G-supporting technology becomes widespread.

This decision did not satify Three and other mobile operators who own smaller amounts of spectrum. In a statement, Three's CEO Dave Dyson said: "The mobile industry is failing customers and Ofcom has showed it has no interest in addressing that. A 30% cap on total spectrum ownership and a spectrum reservation for smaller operators are the only measures that will preserve competition for the benefit of UK mobile consumers."

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