Red tape holding back 3G improvement

The UK 3G market is being held back by governmental delays, according to a tribunal called in to adjudicate on a spectrum allocation dispute.

Red tape holding back 3G improvement

Last week, the Competition Appeal Tribunal rejected an appeal by O2 in which the operator asked to be allowed to use its 2G spectrum allocation to provide 3G services.

O2 was appealing an earlier decision from Ofcom, where the regulator had said new European legislation designed to simplify spectrum use required a debate in the UK parliament before it could come into effect in the UK.

“We are naturally disappointed as we believe EU legislation gives us the immediate right to use 2G spectrum for 3G services,” O2 said in a statement. “However, we are encouraged by the Tribunal’s view that it would be ‘a tragedy if yet further legal wrangles caused more delay’.

“The Tribunal agrees with us that speedy liberalisation is in the best interest of UK consumers.”

According to Ofcom, it cannot give permission for any of the UK operators to use their 2G licences for 3G until it has received “direction policy advice” on the subject from the government.

However, despite the EU legislation coming into force 12 months ago, parliament has yet to discuss the issue.

Documentation regarding the EU’s GSM Amendment Directive was put in front of politicians shortly before the election, but following amendments from the coalition Government it had to be re-submitted.

This was done shortly before the summer recess, but politicians have still not got around to ruling on an issue that could free up bandwidth for faster 3G cennectivity.

According to the department for Business Innovation and Skills, which is responsible for the regulation: “The new proposals are with parliament, but parliament will have to decide when they time for such a debate. It’s not down to us to decide.”

The new EU rules were supposed to come into law by May this year at the latest.

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