The team at Vodafone UK are seriously annoyed. Enough to use some rather emotive language when describing the behaviour of the industry’s regulator, Ofcom.
What’s Ofcom done wrong this time? They’ve allowed Everything Everywhere (i.e. T-Mobile and Orange) to use their existing 1800 MHz spectrum for 4G services.
The short story being that, theoretically, Everything Everywhere can go live with their 4G services from 11th of September this year.
Meanwhile Vodafone (and everyone else) is sitting staring at the wall waiting for the promised December auction to begin before they have any hope of doing similar. At least, that’s how it looks.
Now the reality is that Everything Everywhere may not be in the position to do anything in September. Or October. Or anytime soon. However, if I was them, I’d be seriously considering the possibility of getting service live in London (or “major metropolitan areas”) and piggybacking on the new iPhone launch to try and win a ton of new customers (e.g. “the only 4G network for your new iPhone”).
Have a read of Vodafone’s statement released this morning in reaction to Ofcom’s announcement yesterday:
“We are frankly shocked that Ofcom has reached this decision. The regulator has shown a careless disregard for the best interests of consumers, businesses and the wider economy through its refusal to properly regard the competitive distortion created by allowing one operator to run services before the ground has been laid for a fully competitive 4G market.
Ofcom’s timing is particularly bizarre given the reports that Everything Everywhere is currently in discussions to sell some of its spectrum to 3, which Ofcom has previously been at such pains to protect with its over-engineering of the 4G auction. This means the balance in the auction will fundamentally change.
The regulator has spent several years refusing to carry out a fair and open auction. Now its decision today has granted the two most vociferous complainants during that entire process a massive incentive to further delay it.
We wholeheartedly support the Secretary of State’s call for the 4G auction to occur in December and look to the regulator to finally do its job and produce a competitive market for 4G services as soon as possible.
We firmly believe that a fully competitive market for 4G services is in the best interests of Britain. We have already committed ourselves to reach 98% of the UK population with indoor 4G services by 2015 – two years before Ofcom’s own target – but we need to acquire spectrum in the auction to achieve this. Ironically, all that stands in our way right now is the regulator.”
Yes, well hasn’t that always been the case?
Rarely am I impressed by the industry regulator. This move doesn’t seem very fair at all. I don’t see how it helps me as a Vodafone customer. (Although as a 3 customer, I might get a look in with this depending on their relationship).