Three Threatens To Impede 4G Roll Out With Legal Action

Hot on the heels of the news that both Vodafone and O2 are firing flak at Ofcom over Everything Everywhere's potential 4G LTE head-start later this year, Three is now doing its bit to muddy the UK's 4G waters as well.

Three's concern isn't Everything Everywhere's proposed 1800MHz plans, though, but the core auction and most important 800MHz spectrum.

According to a report in the Guardian, Three fears that the other big network players are going to squeeze it out of the 800MHz space. And that would be bad news for Three, as that's the choicest spectrum cut, with the ability to travel furthest across the country, and penetrate within buildings more effectively.

Three fears the current 4G auction rules aren't in its favour when it comes to ensuring a fair division of spectrum. It wants Ofcom to move to help it out and guarantee some 800MHz space will be available, and not all gobbled by the big three operators (O2, Vodafone, and Everything Everywhere).

Ofcom has already made provisions to ensure some spectrum is reserved for smaller fry networks, but not necessarily in the 800MHz slice.

Previously, it was thought Three wanted the 4G auction to happen as swiftly as possible, as the network was running out of bandwidth. However, new network upgrade plans mean that's no longer the case, hence Three has asserted that it's considering court action - which will bog down the 4G roll out further.

That's most definitely not what the UK needs, already being well behind schedule with next-gen mobile broadband compared to the US and other parts of Europe.

Vodafone rubbished Three's argument, and said it had plenty in the way of fiscal backing to compete in the spectrum auction.

A Vodafone spokesman said: "We still do not believe ... the case has been made for reserving any spectrum ... for Three. Ofcom should stop trying to over-engineer the release of new spectrum to run the next generation of mobile internet services and simply run a fair and open auction as soon as possible."

He added: "Three is backed by a multibillion-pound business the size of Barclays bank so has plenty of resources to take part in a fair and open auction."