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boom Sharon White

Tell Sharon you want a

30% cap.

SIGN THE LETTER NOW.

Tell Sharon you want a

30% cap.

SIGN THE LETTER NOW.

SPECTRUM EXPLAINED

Our airwaves are up for sale and consumers are not being protected.

BT/EE dominate the market and, despite what some of the headlines say, Ofcom are allowing them to buy even more in the 2017 spectrum auction.

That means higher mobile prices, slower speeds and worse coverage for UK consumers. It’s not too late though. Sharon White, CEO of Ofcom, aka Consumer Champion, can still save the day by stopping any one company owning over 30% of today and tomorrow’s airwaves.

Only a 30% overall cap is fair.

Sign the consultation now.

Help make the air fair and tell Ofcom that you support a 30% cap on mobile spectrum holdings. Fill in your details below.

Ofcom Consultation: release of 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz.

Dear Ms White,

As a mobile customer, I believe that Ofcom can and should act to ensure that the mobile market delivers a genuine choice of affordable and high quality mobile services, wherever I live in the UK.

As a mobile internet user, I expect to be able to reliably stream high quality content without buffering, to be able to upload and download photos quickly and to switch easily between different apps and tasks when I’m on my phone. To do this I need access to fast, high capacity service, no matter what network I choose to be on.

To make sure this is the case, no one company should be able to dominate the UK’s airwaves. Mobile networks rely on these vital airwaves to offer high-quality, competitive mobile services to customers. Yet the current distribution of spectrum has given the biggest operators a greater advantage than ever before.

If spectrum is concentrated in the hands of one or two big players, the number of providers of high quality services in the UK will be limited unnecessarily. This situation risks driving prices up, delivering worse quality of service, as well as reducing the number of networks I can choose from.

I believe that Ofcom must address this in the upcoming auction for 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz spectrum. The regulator should make sure that following this auction, no operator is allowed to own more than 30% of the total mobile phone spectrum in the UK - referred to as Option E in the consultation. I am concerned that the preferred option put forward by Ofcom in its consultation will not do this, and will make an already bad situation for consumers even worse.

I would also ask that high quality and competitive mobile services for consumers is Ofcom’s key consideration for the design of this auction, and other releases in the future. I confirm that this email constitutes a formal consultation response which Ofcom can publish. However, please remove any personal information before publishing.

Yours sincerely,

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Support for 30% cap in Ofcom’s release of 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz spectrum bands.

Dear MP,

As you will know, high-quality mobile services are vital to residents in this constituency, not least myself. As a customer, I believe that we should have reliable coverage and a genuine choice of affordable and high quality services wherever we live in the UK.

To make sure this is the case, it’s essential that the mobile market should be fair and competitive. No operator should have an unfair advantage in the market; no one company should be able to dominate the airwaves, at the expense of coverage and consumer choice. However I am concerned that previous releases of the spectrum capacity that mobile networks rely upon have given the biggest operators a greater advantage than ever before and that this situation may become worse as a result of the upcoming spectrum auction.

I am worried that this risks reducing my choice and coverage; as well as my ability to keep my provider on their toes at the end of my contract.

I am therefore writing to ask you to contact Ofcom on my behalf, regarding the importance of mobile to myself and your other constituents. I would encourage you to ask what plans the regulator has for the upcoming auction to ensure that following this auction, no operator is allowed to own more than 30% of the total useable mobile phone spectrum in the UK.

I believe the case for a 30% cap is clear. However, if Ofcom proves that it is unable to go against the interests of the largest operators then I would like Government to take the lead in ensuring the air is fair and that a clear and effective cap is introduced.

Yours sincerely,

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ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW

Ofcom has already capped BT – what are you campaigning for?

Ofcom has not capped BT from increasing its spectrum holdings. Far from it – under its current proposals, BT would be able to bid on four fifths of the spectrum which is being auctioned next year. This allows BT to further increase its dominant position and prevent UK consumers from having access to a choice of mobile networks able to offer a fast, reliable service.

Who is Sharon White?

Sharon White is the Chief Executive of media regulator Ofcom. She is the first woman to lead Ofcom.

Ofcom’s job is to make sure that people in the UK get the best from their communications services and ensure that competition can thrive.

As Ofcom’s boss – Sharon’s job is to champion ordinary consumers in phone, TV and broadband.

She was appointed to the role in 2015. We believe that Sharon has consumers’ best interests at heart. She said in a speech in October 2015, “Ofcom’s top priority is to ensure that consumers get the best possible deal. This means the best possible services, at the lowest possible prices.” She then goes on to say, “Competition is the indispensable force that drive these results for consumers.”

Sharon grew up in East London and then went to Cambridge University where she graduated with a BA in Economics.

After her studies she became a civil servant and rose to become the first black person to hold the position of Second Permanent Secretary at the Treasury between 2013 and 2015.

Sharon is a mum of two. She is regarded as one of the most influential women in Whitehall and has recently been voted in the top 10 Black Powerlist.

Sharon is our consumer champion. Like us, she believes in fairness and competition. This is why we believe she will listen to our voices and impose the 30% cap, so that no one network will dominate the mobile internet.

Tell me more about these airwaves being auctioned?

All wireless signals (like the ones from your phone) travel through the air via radio frequency.

We’ve been calling them airwaves so everyone understands, but actually the experts refer to them as the “spectrum”.

TV broadcasts, radio, GPS signals and every time you check Facebook or find Pikachu on Pokemon Go – all these are bits of data flying invisibly through the airwaves. The simplest way of explaining this is that it’s a bit like radio – tune your radio to one frequency and you get Kiss FM, tune to another and you magically get The Archers. This is because radio is sliced up into individual frequencies which are then given to each radio provider.

In a simplistic way, the mobile networks are similar. The likes of O2, BT/EE, Vodafone and Three all supply their service to you on certain fixed frequencies within the spectrum.

And the more slices of spectrum each one owns, the better, faster and more stable their service can be.

What’s the problem?

Here’s the rub. Some networks own or control more slices of the spectrum than others.

BT/EE own 42%, whereas Three owns 15%. Vodafone has 29%, while O2 sits on 14%.

These may seem just like numbers (and they are) but who owns the most and what they do with it has a huge impact on you, the consumer – how often you see that YouTube buffer sign, how many dropped calls you get in the Brecon Beacons and ultimately how much your monthly bill is.

Why should I care?

Who owns the most airwaves has a direct effect on your pocket and the quality of service you receive.

In the upcoming auction for more spectrum, if left as unchecked as Ofcom are currently planning, BT/EE could end up with a massive share of the spectrum. That means the other networks getting crowded out of the market, which in turn means less choice for consumers, worse network coverage, more blackspots, more complaints and higher prices.

Why is this bad?

We just need to look at other sectors that BT has monopolised. Look at what has happened to the UK’s broadband service under the dominance of BT and their subsidiary Openreach.

We have been crippled and left in the digital dark ages through their shambolic underinvestment in the UK’s network infrastructure.

A recent Select Committee report found that BT’s approach leads to it underinvesting in its Openreach infrastructure by hundreds of millions of pounds every year. This is despite its likely having received some £1.5bn of public funds to expand its network*.

Ofcom has found that the UK compares poorly with the majority of peer countries in the availability of ultrafast broadband. Fibre To The Premises technology is currently available to just 2% of premises in the UK, compared to over 60% in world-leading countries.

*P16 and p58, House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Establishing worldclass connectivity throughout the UK, 2016

How does this happen?

Fundamentally through a lack of competition, which allows one provider to deliver a poor service and charge high prices.

Organisations such as Ofcom are there to monitor and control such situations, but as we have seen with broadband, sometimes they are just not influential enough to keep things in check.

We can’t let the same thing happen to your mobile phone service.

Don’t BT/EE say they are “fastest” network? That seems pretty good to me?

Yes, they do say they are the fastest network, but the truth is they should be a lot faster than they are.

They currently own 42% of the spectrum which equates to 255MHz. That’s way more than any other network. In fact, it’s nearly three times the amount Three or O2 own.

Despite EE’s headline claims on speed, between themselves and BT they are actually sitting on around 75MHz of spectrum, a valuable national asset they’re not even using. That’s nearly as much as Three or O2 own in total, and they bought it just to ensure nobody else could. They certainly didn’t buy it to ensure a better service for consumers.

Ultimately, the other networks are using all the spectrum they own just to try and offer a decent service, whereas BT/EE are sat on a load of unused spectrum just to try and squeeze out the competition.

And we all know why competition is so important for you, the consumer.

What are we doing about it?

Our campaign, maketheairfair.org, has one simple belief:

No single network should be allowed to own more than 30% of the overall spectrum, to ensure a future of fair prices and a better service for consumers.

We need your help to make the air fair, to ensure you get a great choice of networks providing eye-popping speeds, everywhere coverage and low prices in the future. We need people everywhere to sign up with us and stand up for fairness. So you get the product you deserve, so you keep all the networks on their toes, so you don’t have to shell out more for an inferior service.

Does my voice matter?

Yes. Ofcom has published a consultation on its proposals which means that they can still be changed. Ofcom’s job is to protect consumers which means your voice really matters. The best way for you to support a 30% cap is to respond to the consultation via this website.

Supported by

  • Three Mobile
  • CITY FIBRE
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