back to article Everything Everywhere's 4G party bus could run Three off a cliff

Ofcom's proposal to give Everything Everywhere a year's monopoly on 4G raised the eyebrows of MPs, and the hackles of the competition, who can't see how it could possibly be fair. The plan to let EE deploy LTE in its massive stockpile of 1800MHz spectrum was published on Tuesday, and interested parties have until April 17 to …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Andy Hards

    So am I missing something here?

    If they only have 3 packs to sell off how will that ensure 4 players in a competitive market? Is this what Three are mainly pissed off about?

  2. James 51 Silver badge

    With three being the smallest operator they are likely to be out bid for the spectrum.

  3. Andrew Jones 2
    Thumb Down

    Personally - I am happy with 3G / HSDPA. I would much rather have the One Plan from Three with slower speeds than high speed LTE that has a ridiculously low usage cap.

  4. James 100

    The company running the actual network is MBNL (Mobile Broadband Network Limited) though - a joint venture of Three and EE! I'm not quite sure how that works in terms of the two sets of "separate" frequency licenses, with transparent roaming already in place, but it wouldn't surprise me to see Three grabbing a chunk of this lower spectrum for MBNL to use while EE contribute the huge higher frequency bands.

    Personally I'd give the 3 bands to O2, Vodafone and Three respectively - in exchange for coverage commitments. I'd rather have a better network for everyone to use than squeeze more cash into the treasury - but then, I'm not in charge of spending the contents of it...

    1. Jess--

      O2 (or cellnet as they used to be) and vodafone already have the majority of 900mhz spectrum available (and they got it for nothing). that was the reason they were originally excluded from bidding for the three remaining chunks of spectrum there.

      as things used to be...

      900mhz Vodafone / Cellnet (O2)

      1800mhz Orange / One2One (T Mobile)

      1900mhz Three

      as I understand it these days everyone has a presence on 1900mhz (3g) but the 900 and 1800mhz spectrum has stayed the same meaning that Three are stuck on the worst possible band for building penetration and range and are now likely to struggle to buy desperately needed 900mhz spectrum, the original plan was for 3 blocks of 900mhz spectrum to be sold to the 3 operators without a presence on 900mhz which were T Mobile & Orange (pre merger) and Three

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      MBNL is a company so Three and Everything Everywhere can share backhaul and sites. In some cases they may even use the same equipment on a site, i.e. the same antenna, but they cannot share frequencies as the regulator doesn't allow that.

      This means that for these 2 companies are less towers to build and get approval for (1/2), but you have the same coverage

      1. UMTS =(

        Re: MBNL

        Spot on

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unless there is a massive demand for 4G that I wasn't aware of, I do wonder how much of an advantage being first in the market will prove to be. I don't see any reason to walk away from an industry because you have to wait a bit for a licence, unless, of course, you were looking for an excuse to do so, I suppose. I suspect mere saber rattling.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Gotta wonder if the backhaul network is up to it anyway. 3g connections seem to regularly over-saturate their links.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        The way sites are now being backhauled is rapidly changing, that's all part of being ready for LTE. Let's not judge it yet and open our minds to what it might bring. Ask the Cornish trialists they seem to love it..

  6. Luther Blissett

    Litigation Optional

    >> Vaizey hopes the proposals won't be legally challenged: "The time to have these arguments in the courts has long since passed," he said.

    I read that as a prospect of litigation in the offing. Perhaps some such will succeed in allowing some sunlight on the corporatist/kleptocratic murk, Ofcom, and Vaizey the Lazy.

  7. Gio Ciampa

    Rather than sell off the spectrum, why not just rent it out to all the telcos on a usage basis?

    Guaranteed income for years to come for Ofcom - at least until 5G (or whatever) comes along - and no big pot of money for the Chancellor to fritter away on election bribes....

    (Yes... I've said this before...)

    1. Tim of the Win

      If you had only short licenses then the network operators wouldn't be able to invest the money to setup the networks in the first place, since they don't have the guarantee of being able to operate it for a long time.

      To be honest I think allocations should be made on the basis of public benefit rather than purely who is offering to pay the most. 3g was ridiculously expensive for a long time because the networks were forced into paying so much for it.

      We could always separate out the people who own and run the towers from the people who sell the mobile phone services. In a way like BT Openreach works every tower / frequency would be available for every mobile operator if they buy the coverage from the tower operator. Rural areas would stand a better chance of getting service on all networks and competition in the city areas would keep prices low.

      1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

        @Tim of the Win:

        "If you had only short licenses then the network operators wouldn't be able to invest the money to setup the networks in the first place, since they don't have the guarantee of being able to operate it for a long time."

        Ah, but bandwidth is a national resource that could—and, I argue, should—be built and maintained by an infrastructure company similar to Network Rail. Thus the various operators become like train operators: leasing bandwidth from "Network Cellphone" as needed. (I'd also like to see traditional wired broadband infrastructure handled the same way, but by a separate entity. Let's call it "Broadband Telecom". Note that this entity would also own any cable TV infrastructure laid by the likes of Virgin Media too. Again, the service providers simply lease bandwidth on the infrastructure provided.)

        This has a number of advantages:

        1. "Network Cellphone" and, in its turn, the Treasury, is thus assured of a regular annual income from the operators. Granted, they'll lose the massive windfall lump sums that an auction can generate, but this also means the operators have more capital to play with, so we can charge them accordingly for new infrastructure. Those costs gradually fall over time as new technologies appear and are rolled out.

        2. The operators no longer need to worry about the hassle of building competing networks and can simply let "Network Cellphone" take care of it.

        3. "Network Cellphone", being effectively owned by the taxpayers, will be required to provide truly universal coverage, as BT does. This increases competition with Broadband Telecom's own broadband internet services, so Network Cellphone will also have an incentive to improve their offering in turn.

        4. With no need to spend staggering sums of money on stupid auctions of what is, essentially, thin air, there's less need to gouge end users, so "unlimited" may finally mean exactly what it says on the tin.

        5. The UK is currently in the throes of upgrading some truly ancient physical transport infrastructure. The government will soon realise that it's going to be a lot cheaper to solve some transport problems by simply eliminating the need to travel in the first place. This is particularly true of office-centric industries such as banking, insurance, etc. Many of these industries can easily move towards a more telecommuting-friendly setup. So there's plenty of incentive to keep investing money into Network Cellphone's infrastructure projects. It's a hell of a lot cheaper to build some new masts than it is to build a brand new high-speed railway.

        I think governments should nationalise infrastructure instead of supporting wasteful duplication of it. Why buy four plots of land for four cellphone masts, when you could just build a single, slightly bigger, mast instead? Why dig up the roads multiple times to lay cables when you could just dig it up the once—ideally while giving the electricity and gas infrastructure alongside a quick inspection and a bit of TLC.

        Competition only makes sense where it is logical to have it. Money spent on unnecessary duplication of infrastructure is money that would be better invested elsewhere.

        1. Mike Pellatt
          Thumb Down

          Re: @Tim of the Win:

          We used to have a nationalised company for fixed-wire telecommunications. In fact, it was a Government Department before that.

          Ok, they were the (monopoly) service provider too, but tell me just how innovative, un-bureaucratic and efficient they were. And just how well they did forward planning. Remember 2-3 year waits for a telephone line to be installed ??? I do.

          Now fast forward into today's world where telecomms technology moves at least 10x faster, and this idea, whilst appealing, would be a total disaster if implemented. The problem, if anything, is that the remnant of the aforementioned organisation has too much residual power and coverage left over from its monopoly days, making it so much harder for the community broadband model to be financially viable. OK, that isn't radio comms, but the same effects would apply.

          It's like The Good Old Days of British Railways when all the trains ran on time, tickets were cheap, there were no serious accidents and every employee greeted a passenger with a cheery smile.

      2. Mike Pellatt

        "3g was ridiculously expensive for a long time because the networks were forced into paying so much for it."

        The networks weren't forced into paying those ridiculous amounts. The spectrum went to an open auction (with certain build-out requirements of the winners) and the networks went into a bidding war for it. Just like you occasionally (!!!!) see on eBay, the result was that the winners massively overpaid. Whatever the reason was for that, there was no coercion involved.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let 3/Three die

    It's an abolute sack of shit anyway.

    1. Ed 11

      Re: Let 3/Three die

      They are also the only network with decent data tariffs so frankly... I have no idea what you are talking about.

    2. Digital Freedom

      Re: Let 3/Three die

      Hmm totally disagree with you there

      1) Three signal is actually not too bad nowadays. It is a shame there is no 2G backup anymore. They used to use Orange but I think that facility has been disabled now (?).

      2) If it wasn't for Three's market presence then NOBODY would be doing Unlimited Data

      3) Three were first to release HSPA+ (HSPA Plus which is 21 Meg download speeds)

      4) Three use Fibre Optic backhauls which none of the other operators use (ok Tmobile does but they are both part of the same company MBNL)

      5) Three share Tmobile base stations and funnily enough are the only two to do Unlimited

      6) Three keep Vodafone/O2/Oranges prices down by being a constant pain in their backsides

      So even if you don't like Three, they are doing good for the UK mobile market ?

      1. Mike Pellatt

        Re: Let 3/Three die

        Agree in general, but you forget the higher interconnect price that Three charge for incoming calls, which has to be part of their business model enabling them to be competitive for their users.

        Charge the callers instead. Clever marketing, 'coz people who go for Three (for voice) won't be worried about that.

      2. Andrew Jones 2
        Thumb Up

        Re: Let 3/Three die

        Just to clarify - the 2G backup is now provided by T-Mobile.

        Unfortunately where the phone roams happily enough to T-Mobile and initiates a data connection - I have yet to actually be able to use the data connection (in 2 years) unless it is an Edge connection. GPRS might as well not exist as far as my HTC Desire is concerned.

        Also worth noting the only "backup" that I am aware of being removed or planned to be removed is areas that served by Three and T-Mobile - Three are / were planning to disable roaming in this circumstance because people were sitting on T-Mobile's network to save battery life.

    3. Martyn Welch
      Thumb Down

      Re: Let 3/Three die

      I respectfully disagree. There coverage does have a few holes, which might have more to do with the frequencies they have access to, but they are also significantly cheaper than the larger networks. I'm quite happy to trade the occasional loss of coverage when I'm paying under 1/2 of what I'd be playing on the larger networks.

      1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: Let 3/Three die

        I'm ditching Vodafone in favour of Three, because the data charges are more sensible, and, crucially, they have better coverage. Vodafone might have been better in 2G days but not any more.

        Most significantly, on commuter trains. On my journey, there are a few tunnel / embankment points where 3 breaks. Vodafone pretty much only works at the stations.

    4. Alan Edwards

      Re: Let 3/Three die

      No it isn't. They are (by a big margin) the only network I'd use for data, the tariffs from the others are daylight robbery.

      They were the only mobile network that worked at a remote farm in Wales I stayed at once. T-Mobile just about worked if you leaned out of a window, the rest were non-existent.

      Our work phones are mostly now on Orange, whose data network collapsed in a big heap a week or so ago. Not just 3G either, nothing worked for me for a day. They also have a habit of sending calls to voicemail without even ringing.

      My opinion is they are the only UK network that takes data seriously, the rest do it because they have to.

  9. jubtastic1

    Wouldn't it all be easier

    If all this investment was thrown into one big network, and operators just sold packages on it, like they do with electricity, gas, rail and to a large extent, broadband? Seems ridiculous that we're going to pay for four sets of redundant cell towers, backhaul etc blanketing the country.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We can't wait for...

    Everything Everywhere's 4G LTE network over 2Meg backhaul...

    1. UMTS =(

      Re: We can't wait for...

      2 meg backhaul, when did you last work in telecoms? Mostly Ethernet nowadays

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We can't wait for...

        Er, yeah most of the Industry does indeed use Ethernet but NOT Orange. They love 2 Megs.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: We can't wait for...

 you missed the part where EE (T-Mobile & Orange) are buying GigE from Virgin Media??

's our 'former monopoly' that are still pushing 2Meg prices down instead of fighting on the GigE/10GigE playground that is the problem.

          A shared national/regional backhaul network makes sense but not a national radio network. Radio technology advances moves somewhat faster that steel rails on concrete sleepers on gravel that is little changed in 200 years.

          In our last telecoms Monopoy, the government pushed BT to take SystemX from GPT (GEC_Plessey) 3 decades ago on the basis of their British base, but they were quietly diluted in Favour of SystemY (Ericsson) not long after.

          Then BT sat on it's cash-pile down at the Club for a few years before waking up, and deciding it was bigger that it was, getting Huawei to come in with a miraculously cheap 21CN and quietly dropped that when they found that it was not possible to get what they wanted for what they were willing to pay.

          So the omens for Monopoly are not good, but I do like the concept of the government 'investing' in telecoms as a national resource. Raping the OpCos in a spectrum auction is not the way to begin that process.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stupid Name

    "Three" is a bit short sighted anyway. They should die.

  12. takuhii

    Is it just me, or do OFCOM not actually seem to know what they are doing and are just easily led by who-ever is using the latest BuzzWords?!

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019