back to article Ofcom slaps ban on BT/EE 4G spectrum bid

Communications giant BT/EE will not be able to bid for more 4G spectrum in the forthcoming auction, according to proposals by communications regulator Ofcom. Next year, Ofcom will auction 190 MHz of spectrum in the 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz bands – an increase of just under a third of the total mobile spectrum currently available. …

"These airwaves could be used immediately after release"

If you ignore the small matter of deploying a network to support (a) the new frequency and (b) the LTE-TDD technology that it requires but none of the current UK LTE deployments use.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "These airwaves could be used immediately after release"

The airwaves went begging at the last auction anyway.

The spectrum sale massively under-performed leaving many people commenting that the big players were far too stingy and not bought enough.

If you turn around a short while later and start complaining that you've not got enough spectrum while others have plenty who's fault is that???

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "These airwaves could be used immediately after release"

"The airwaves went begging at the last auction anyway."

I would be interested to know how many mobile phone users have handsets which support the additional spectrum being bid for anyway ... or does OFCOM just assume that manufacturers will quickly update handsets appropriately?

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Re: "These airwaves could be used immediately after release"

Indeed. Three was complaining to the regulator that it did not have enough spectrum before the last auction, and then only bought a small amount of spectrum at that auction. They could have got a lot more if they had been willing to spend a little more money. (As it was, EE and BT bought up the final lots for a song, before then merging with one another, which explains the current situation).

Of course, Three also persuaded the regulator to force EE to give it 2x15MHz of 1800MHz spectrum when T-Mobile and Orange merged as a condition of the merger. Three now uses the spectrum for the bulk of its 4G networks. Now they have been lobbying regulators to force BT/EE to be forced to give up spectrum again. It's almost like Three thinks that they can get a better deal through politics than what they could get if they simply went and bought stuff. Funny that.

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Re: "These airwaves could be used immediately after release"

Virtually every high end phone sold in the UK in the last year has support for TD-LTE at least on Band 40 (2.3GHz, which is the important band) , and mostly other bands as well. So do an increasing number of mid-market phones. Quite a few phones sold between one and three years ago do have such support, but it's hard to predict which ones. TD-LTE and FD-LTE are used alongside each other in many Asian markets, and whether the phone sold here supported TD-LTE depended on whether the manufacturer was selling a different variant in Europe from Asia or not. Some were, and some weren't.

For instance, the last three generations of iPhone sold in the UK do have such support. The Samsung Galaxy S7 sold in the UK has it, but the Galaxy S6 does not. For other manufacturers it varies.

If we assume that most heavy data users have phones that are reasonably high end and/or fairly new, I think the claim is fair that TD-LTE on 2.3GHz will be used pretty heavily here the moment it is switched on.

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Anonymous Coward

Are Ofcom admittting that they fcuked Up? Or is Theresa May confirming they have?

Are Ofcom/CMA finallly admitting that they fcuked up in allowing the BT/EE merger?

Given that BT has absolutely no incentive now to roll out real FTTP, because it would make the speeds achieveable on the EE Mobile network redundant overnight. Why bother with 4G 5-25Mbps (real speeds) mobile when you have 1Gbps+ FTTP? (CMA said there was no overlap between BT/EE, they were distinct! - FFS)

Why are ofcom allowing BT to push this Pointless G.fast tech, which is just getting mapped 1:1 with existing FTTC cabinets? Other locations (i.e. connecting rural hamlets via FTTdp) for roll out of G.fast will be just as expensive as FTTP, but a lot more troublesome.

Everyone knows (as technical solution) to get blanket coverage G.fast is just as, if not more expensive than real FTTP, due to the Power supply issues. It's BT propaganda that is feeding this line that G.fast is cheaper, it isn't.

If BT did proper coordnation with customers, i.e. did streets at a time, not individual houses at time, I don't believe real FTTP is more expensive to get the sort of blanket coverage needed, epecially rurally.

There a lot's of hidden maintenance costs with Pointless G.fast, especially dealing with interference issues.

BT is on a failed trajectory to use G.fast as its solution, it's a blinkered approach, that is not taking into account how fast things are changing around it, G.fast is out of date, before its even got out of trail rollouts.

Also, the likely roll out of BT Femtocells as replacements for the BT Home Hub, means in the future, the taxpayers have paid to allow BT to gouge Mobile Data per MB pricing, when the Femtocell data is being sent back of FTTC infrastucture that the taxpayer paid for.

Regarding Spectrum allocation,

It's the Supermarket equivalent of Land banking.

Why can't there be virtual allocation of 4G Spectrum? (something an independent Openreach could also do). I'm sure an offshoot of VMWare could work on a solution to that problem, with an annual free based each operator's usage.

(A few points for you to work on Ofcom, if you're reading)

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Silver badge

Re: Are Ofcom admittting that they fcuked Up? Or is Theresa May confirming they have?

A few points for you to work on Ofcom, if you're reading

And what would be the chances of that? Ofcom have had their head shoved somewhere the sun does not shine for a very, very long time. Whilst I'd agree with everything you say, Ofcom were given a perfect opportunity early this year to grasp the Openreach nettle, and they failed comprehensively and utterly. Sharon White could have been the new broom, could have reinvigorated telecoms regulation, but instead she opted for the Civil Service core values of doing nothing, and doing that slowly. In light of that there's little prospect that Ofcom will come to their senses on technical issues or regulatory conflicts.

And with VerminMedia openly backing BT/Openreach, you've got the largest incumbents across copper, mobile and cable all singing loudly from the same hymn sheet of vested interest.

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Re: Are Ofcom admittting that they fcuked Up? Or is Theresa May confirming they have?

"A few points for you to work on Ofcom, if you're reading"

None. It was referenced with a sarcastic tone. Ofcom are a complete waste of space. BT has technically incompetent MPs and ofcom wrapped around their little finger. As regulators go, ofcom, the regulator couldn't be more predictable if they tried.

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However, they also raise questions

Answers, in plain brown envelopes please, to...........

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Umm...

I find myself wondering how EE is going to be able to operate an ESN if it doesn't have sufficient spectrum to be able to do it effectively.

I wonder if they thought of that before they decided to get involved...

Having said that spectrum above 2 GHz raises path loss questions, which raises cell spacing questions, which raises questions about the overall viability of the proposal.

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