Three calls for customer insurgency to level playing field with rivals EE and Vodafone

Three calls for customer insurgency to level playing field with rivals EE and Vodafone

Mobile operator Three has called on Ofcom to rethink the way it controls the mobile market to help Three more easily compete with its larger mobile rivals, EE and Vodafone.

The company will ask its customers to write to Ofcom boss Sharon White, The Telegraph reports, to ask her to put greater restrictions on the two networks, which control a much larger proportion of the UK’s spectrum.

EE owner BT currently controls 45% of the spectrum, followed by 28% for Vodafone. O2 has 15%, and Three has 12%. Three was blocked from acquiring O2 earlier this year by the European Commission, which said a market with only three networks would see choice reduced and prices rise.

But Three’s chief executive Dave Dyson told the FT that the current situation was in fact a threat to competition, because a lack of available spectrum limited Three’s ability to cut prices to chase new customers.

Dyson called for a cap on the proportion of spectrum any one network can control at 30%. This would effectively mean BT would be forced to sell some of its spectrum, while Vodafone would be prevented from growing its share.

The situation has arisen after spectrum previously used by the Ministry of Defence went on sale. Ofcom has barred BT from bidding on any more of this to boost its 4G signal – but will be allowed to bid for 5G spectrum early next year.

A consultation on regulating the market with end in January, with a spectrum cap one possible outcome.

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