Three's pretty tetchy over the whole 4G auction in the UK, fearing the "big" guys could muscle it out of decent spectrum. Now, according to the Times on Sunday, Three's parent company has thrown its toys out of the pram and threatened to pull out of the UK unless it gets a decent chunk of LTE-capable spectrum. Or has it?
Hutchinson Whampoa's managing director Canning Fok, apparently told our dear PM David Cameron that the company would pull funding from its UK subsidiary, should Ofcom not ensure Three gets a fair chunk of 4G spectrum. However, the company later refuted the report, describing it as "groundless;" that it was perfectly happy with its current investments in the UK, and that it was actually seeking new investment opportunities in good old Blighty.
"The speculations that HWL may stop investment in the UK and /or quit the UK telecom market are totally untrue and groundless"
Other networks have complained about the special treatment Three is demanding, because although it's the UK's smallest network, it's not exactly small fry: Three is backed by a multibillionaire, and Hutchinson isn't short of cash.
There's been so much controversy over the 4G auctions, including Everything Everywhere's 4G on 2G band swap, so it'll be a miracle if it all goes ahead as scheduled. Let's just hope that whatever happens, Three doesn't pull out of the UK: It's the only major network that currently offers unlimited data with tethering, something that's pretty much died off everywhere else. If Three manages to pump out unlimited data with tethering over 4G it'll make a lot of mobile speed freaks very happy indeed, including me. [ZDNet, Rethink Wireless]