Uncertainty for UK spectrum auctions as refarming permitted

Ofcom permits 2G spectrum refarming

Ofcom yesterday varied the spectrum licences of the UK’s three 2G spectrum licensees (EverythingEverywhere (JV between Orange and T-Mobile), Vodafone and O2) to permit them to use those frequencies for 3G services (mobile broadband) as well as 2G services (such as voice and SMS). 

For more detail see the Olswang update (thanks to Telecommentator).

Uncertainty about digital dividend and WiMax auctions remain

However, uncertainty still remains over the timetable, process and scope for challenge in relation to the proposed UK auctions for the digital dividend (800 MHz) and WiMax (2.6 GHz) spectrum.  The December 2010 Directions to Ofcom, which came into force on 30 December 2010 merely direct Ofcom to carry out a competition assessment (s8 of the Directions) and to auction 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz spectrum (s9 of the Directions).

Those who have been following the saga for some time, may be getting an eerie deja vu feeling right now, and I am reminded of the TV series Dallas where one season turned out to have been a dream.  When Ofcom originally tried to auction the 2.6 GHz spectrum it became bogged down in litigation, and pursuant to the Digital Britain initiative of the last government, the Independent Spectrum Broker identified proposals that could form the basis of detailed direction to Ofcom, thereby limiting the scope of Ofcom’s discretion and (the hope went), limiting the scope for challenging the exercise of that discretion.   We are now back to Ofcom having extensive discretion in terms of the auction process.  Stetson anyone?