O2 UK has warned regulator Ofcom that the terms of the forthcoming 5G spectrum unfairly favour rival operator 3 UK, reports The Telegraph. This follows a consultation launched by Ofcom in June on whether to hold an additional round of bidding to even out the spectrum capacity held by UK mobile network operators.
In its submission, O2 UK warned that its rival could buy narrow slivers of spectrum to block rivals from using larger, contiguous blocks of spectrum. It wants Ofcom to follow a model used in other European markets that ensures operators can purchase uninterrupted spectrum blocks to prevent fragment fragmentation. O2 UK believes that 3 UK’s current spectrum share gives it an unfair ‘kingmaker’ position that would allow it to ‘game the situation’ and stifle competition.
In its own submission, 3 UK expressed support for additional negotiations at the auction in 2020, but warned about allowing rivals to agree special deals with each other instead of reaching a unanimous agreement on how to share the 5G spectrum between operators.
An unnamed industry source told The Telegraph that O2 was trying to undo the outcome of the 2019 auction, and warned that this was ‘not feasible’.