Three tries to stop Vodafone and BT buying too much spectrum

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Three has asked Ofcom to stop Vodafone and BT buying too much spectrum when the auction happens later this year.

The company's smallest mobile provider thinks it would be unfair if the two companies bought more than their fair share. After all, BT and EE together (now just one massive BT network) own almost half of the available spectrum, Vodafone owns around a third more, while Three and O2 own comparably less. Three feels it would put the company in a bad position if Ofcom allows both operators to buy up more.

"The combination of BT and EE is incredibly strong financially. It has got the financial ability to outcompete everyone in the market in how much they are willing to pay," Three chief David Dyson told the Financial Times.

"Potentially, given how much spectrum they are already sitting on, BT is incentivised to strategically bid in the next auction to restrict the other operators in the market from increasing their spectrum portfolio...That could make life difficult."

The European Commission didn't allow Three and O2 to complete its merger earlier in the year, so it could be that Three has a bee in its bonnet about that and the impact it will have on its market share.

"Three and O2 are important and effective competitors in the UK, helping to deliver innovation, investment and competitive prices over many years," the European Commission wrote in its decision.

"Competition must be sustainable, and regulation should support it. We will aim to do so through tools such as market reviews or auctions of mobile airwaves."

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.