Jo Stevens

A strong voice for Cardiff Central

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'Make the Air Fair' Mobile Coverage Campaign

'Make the Air Fair' Campaign Response

I have been contacted by many concerned constituents recently regarding Ofcom's consultation on the release of the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz bands of the mobile spectrum. I am aware that several organisations, including 'Make the Air Fair' are calling for a cap of 30% spectrum ownership for any one network operator.

Access to high-quality mobile phone services is essential. As well as helping people to interact it is also key for our economy and public services. Mobile connectivity needs to improve and it is essential that the mobile market is fair and competitive.

Customer choice and reliable coverage should be available everywhere in the UK. The National Infrastructure Commission has said there are "too many digital deserts" across the country, and ranked Britain 54th in the world for 4G coverage.

During the last Parliament, the Tory/Lib Dem Coalition Government failed to improve mobile connectivity and whilst some measures in the current Government's Digital Economy Bill are welcome, they don’t go far enough.

As you know, Ofcom is currently consulting on the release of the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz bands of the mobile spectrum. I am aware that several organisations, including 'Make the Air Fair' are calling for a cap of 30% spectrum ownership for any one network operator.

This band of spectrum is one of our most significant public assets. How it is auctioned and regulated are issues of critical importance to the economy.

The Government has completely failed to foster a competitive communications market. Ofcom should be supported to make sure that happens.

Licensing conditions for the spectrum auction must be ambitious and tough. These auctions should benefit everyone through better coverage and contribute to our digital economy, rather than simply raising revenue or providing benefit to the mobile network operators.

I have written to Sharon White, the Chief Executive of Ofcom, to raise these points and ask what plans Ofcom has in regards to the upcoming auction, to ensure that no mobile operator begins to establish to dominant control over the total mobile phone spectrum. You can read my letter to Sharon White below.

I will follow the outcome of Ofcom's consultation closely and can assure you that I will continue to press the Government to improve communications infrastructure and mobile network coverage in all areas of the UK.

Thank you once again for contacting me and for sharing your views.

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January 16 2017

 

Dear Ms White,

I have been contacted by many constituents in relation to the upcoming spectrum auction for the 2.3 GHz and 3.4GHz ranges.

My constituents are very concerned that previous auctions have disproportionately benefited the largest mobile phone companies. They want measures in place to prevent the same advantage to the largest companies occurring with the next auction.

They and I also have concerns that with more than one company owning more than 30% of the total available mobile phone spectrum, that company will dominate the market and lead to prices for mobile phone contracts being driven up.

I would hope that the regulator has plans in place to ensure this isn’t the case to ensure that my constituents get the best deal from this auction in the long term.

It is vital that Ofcom makes customers’ need for high quality and affordable mobile services a key consideration in its approach to the auction and ensures a fair and competitive mobile market.

Could you please write to me setting out what plans Ofcom has in regard to the upcoming auction, to ensure that no mobile operator begins to establish to dominant control over the total available mobile phone spectrum?

Thank you and I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

Jo Stevens MP

Member of Parliament for Cardiff Central

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