3 UK takes a dig at Ofcom rural plan

Mobile operator 3 UK called on Ofcom to ditch a plan designed to tackle poor coverage in rural areas of the country, stating the regulator’s proposal was too expensive and lacked ambition.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, 3 UK’s COO Graham Baxter took aim at Ofcom’s plan to remove “partial not-spots” in the UK’s countryside, areas which are not covered by any of the country’s four major operators.

As a way to incentivise investment, Ofcom in 2018 said it planned to offer mobile operators a discount in a spectrum auction planned for 2020, if they make binding coverage commitments.

Ofcom said two operators could receive discounts of up to £400 million on the cost of spectrum licences by committing to meet three targets within four years; providing good outdoor data coverage to at least 90 per cent of the UK’s land mass; improve mobile coverage for 140,000 buildings; and install 500 new masts in rural areas.

Single rural network
Baxter, however, slammed the plan for lacking ambition, while hitting out at the expense incurred by the operator to execute it.

Instead, he said the regulator should push an initiative for a single rural network, which would see the country’s operators jointly invest in a shared infrastructure.

In addition, he urged authorities to relax planning permission rules for taller mobile masts in rural areas of the country.

Baxter also argued Ofcom’s plan would only benefit two mobile operators, but a single network would be beneficial for all four of the country’s operators with regards to coverage.


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