Three UK Chief Exec calls for action on backhaul market

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UK operators can only choose between suppliers of backhaul in eight percent of sites, the CEO of Three UK has claimed, as he led calls for the country's regulator Ofcom to have more powers to strengthen competition.

David Dyson called the current charges for site rentals as "extortionate" and said reform was needed to promote further competition in the UK market. He said Ofcom's interventions on the 4G LTE spectrum auction and mobile termination rates between UK operators had ultimately helped the consumer.

However, the Chief Executive, who was speaking at the Westminster eForum's seminar in London on the UK mobile sector, said Ofcom needed greater powers to intervene in areas of the market that are not as competitive. The regulator needed to ensure spectrum was allocated fairly in forthcoming auctions and consumers were given the ability to switch provider quicker and easier,  he added. 

"The last thing is to make sure there's a situation for fairer wholesale pricing for transmission for backhaul and roaming," Dyson commented.

According to the CEO, there were three areas where competition could be improved. The first was increasing the number of backhaul providers, with only eight percent of the UK offering a choice to operators, Dyson said. 

He continued: "Site rental is extortionate when you compare it to other rents. It's a captive market. There are [also] planning concerns that you have to get around but we are at the mercy of the landlords... it makes no sense electricity providers get charged a 20th of what we are charged."

Speaking last week, Dyson said he was hoping to increase the number of sites Three has with ethernet backhaul from 95 percent to 97 percent by the end of this year. Currently a quarter of its UK sites have gigabyte ethernet, which Dyson hopes to swell to 43 percent by 2015. 

He said: "Without this, customers won't experience true 4G LTE speeds."

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