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Eurobites: BT Rivals Call for Curbs on Spectrum Ownership

Paul Rainford
11/28/2016

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: in-flight connectivity program completes test flight; spectrum-sharing in Russia; Openet gets virtualized.

  • Five UK operators that are concerned about how much mobile spectrum BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) and Vodafone UK hold have joined forces in a new campaign that seeks to persuade Ofcom 's Chief Executive Sharon White to be a "mobile superhero" and place a cap on spectrum ownership. Make the Air Fair brings together Three UK UK, TalkTalk , CityFibre , Gamma Telecom Ltd. and Relish (as well as a lobby group, the Federation of Communication Services (FCS) ) in a call for no single operator to hold more than 30% of the UK's available spectrum. Currently BT (now the owner of EE) holds 42% and Vodafone has 29%, while 3 has 15% and Telefónica UK Ltd. (O2) 14%. Ofcom recently consulted on proposals for how the next batch of spectrum -- 190MHz of spectrum in the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz bands -- should be sold, proposals in which it suggested that a cap of 255MHz per operator on "immediately useable" spectrum should appy, ruling out BT from bidding for spectrum in the 2.3GHz band in next year's auction. However, it did not propose a cap on the amount of 3.4GHz spectrum any one operator could own. (See Eurobites: BT Frozen Out of UK's 2.3GHz Spectrum Auction and Eurobites: 3 Sparks Rumble in UK's Spectrum Jungle.)

  • Airborne connectivity has received a boost with the launch of live testing of the European Aviation Network (EAN), which brings together Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), Inmarsat plc (London: ISAT) and Thales SA (Paris: TCFP.PA) in an effort to achieve better broadband for airline passengers. A test flight was conducted in the UK and a live over-the-air connection achieved in Germany, thanks to the adaptation of Nokia's LTE basestations and remote radio heads to the frequency used for the EAN, provided by Inmarsat. During the flight, tests were performed to see if the network could successfully attach to the ground system, which it did at all four test sites located in the south west of the UK, according to Nokia.

  • Russian operators Mobile TeleSystems OJSC (MTS) (NYSE: MBT) and VimpelCom Ltd. (NYSE: VIP) have announced the start of their spectrum-sharing in the Cherepovetz, a town in the Vologda region, in a move which they claim will allow them to boost data transfer speeds to a maximum of 150 Mbit/s. Over the next year the pair plan to unite their LTE networks in more than 30 regions, reducing the cost of basestation construction and management.

  • Openet Telecom Ltd. , the Ireland-based BSS vendor, has launched a business unit dedicated to delivering virtualized services. Openet Accelerate will be based at Openet's Dublin headquarters.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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