Rivals call for curb on BT’s mobile dominance
November 28, 2016
By Colin Mann
A new campaign is calling on UK consumers to join the fight to ensure more choice and better quality in the mobile sector and curb BT’s dominance.
Three UK, TalkTalk, CityFibre, Federation of Communication Services, Gamma and Relish have come together as ‘Make The Air Fair’ to call on regulator Ofcom to make sure no one mobile network can own more than 30 per cent of the UK’s mobile spectrum.
They say that this will mean that all mobile consumers, regardless of their network provider, benefit from more choice, improved performance, faster speeds and lower prices, suggesting that spectrum has the single biggest impact on a network’s ability to offer a fast, reliable mobile service at a price that consumers can afford.
Ofcom and its Chief Executive, Sharon White, recently asked for views on how the next batch of mobile airwaves should be sold off. Supporters will be able to #TellSharon they want better mobile by going to maketheairfair.org.
According to the campaigners, UK consumers are already faced with rising prices and patchy coverage, and that this will get worse with consumers facing the misery of poorer service and increasing costs, unless Ofcom acts to address the imbalance at the next auction which is set to take place in 2017.
They say that in the whole of the developed world, only Thailand and Malaysia have a larger imbalance of the airwaves amongst mobile operators compared to the UK, noting that BT and Vodafone own almost three quarters of available airwaves.
According to a survey carried out by Three and YouGov, 65 per cent of UK consumers want a cap on how much one company can own of a resource used for a public service.
The campaign will see Ofcom’s CEO Sharon White transformed – across various advertising channels – into a mobile superhero and the nation’s consumer champion with the power to protect competition.
Dave Dyson, CEO at Three UK, said: “The UK mobile market is broken at a critical time when it should be leading and not lagging almost all other developed countries. Ofcom must prove it is on the side of consumers and apply a 30 per cent cap on total spectrum ownership following next year’s auction.”
“Spectrum is a national asset that should benefit every citizen. If it’s all controlled by one or two massive businesses, then you can’t have effective competition and everyone loses out. This is the moment for the British public to stand up and fight for real choice and better mobile services,” he declared.
“We are at a critical point in determining the future of the UK mobile market,” asserted Mark Collins, Director of Strategy and Public Affairs at CityFibre. “With growing investment in the next generation of mobile network infrastructure, the time is right to protect the viability of that competitive market. As a challenger in our market, CityFibre is wholly aligned to the change this campaign seeks to achieve. The regulator must ensure that the upcoming auction is designed to improve services for all.”