Monday 1 April, 2013, 08:04 - Spectrum ManagementMobile operators have been outraged by the results of tests carried out by the University of Bolondok, Hungary, which have shown that, in some cases, up to 30% of the spectrum sold at auction in Europe is not electromagnetic. One of the team behind the work done by the University, Prof. I. Laslo said,
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Posted by Administrator
“We became suspicious of the quality of European spectrum following an undergraduate student project to prepare a set of quality criteria for spectrum auctions. The student’s results were inconsistent, which led us to conduct further tests. Upon closer examination, we discovered traces of non-electromagnetic spectrum within that which has been auctioned, and were surprised to find that in some cases the amount of non-electromagnetic spectrum accounted for up to 30% of that which has been sold.”
The professor refused to indicate which countries were the worst offenders but added,
“You can get an idea of the intrinsic amount of spectrum that is electromagnetic by considering how much money was raised in the auctions themselves. The fact that there is a correlation between lower prices and the level of non-electromagnetic spectrum that was sold suggests that operators were probably aware of the practice when preparing their bids.”
An industry expert, who wished to remain anonymous, has said that the practise of Governments selling non-electromagnetic spectrum should have been anticipated.
“The huge prices paid at auction for spectrum will inevitably lead to regulators wishing to find a way to ‘bulk up’ the spectrum so as to make greater revenues from its sale.”
Asked if they thought that the operators knew that not all the spectrum was electromagnetic they added,
“These murky practises are not confined to regulators. Despite claiming that spectrum is their most valuable resource, there have been cases of operators releasing some of the spectrum they have historically been using, in return for the promise of alternative, presumably pure electromagnetic, spectrum at future auctions. This is a clear indication that they are aware of the fact that some of their spectrum was, perhaps, not as electromagnetic as it should have been.”
No regulators were willing to comment on the situation but mobile operators have been quick to jump on the findings. A senior employee of mobile conglomerate T-Orasdafonica, who also wished to remain anonymous, told us,
“We are outraged to find that regulators have been selling spectrum that may not be fit for purpose. We bought it in good faith. It takes us some time from the auction itself to the point where we actually put the spectrum into use and so we don’t necessarily notice its purity straight away. Once we heard of the findings from the tests, we immediately went out and began to try using the spectrum we had bought. We can concur with the findings that there is some which does not appear to be electromagnetic. We strongly refute the insinuation that we knew of these issues beforehand or that we have knowingly participated in the sale, purchase, or use of spectrum that was anything other than electromagnetic. We intend to instigate an immediate investigation into our spectrum holdings and will be holding the Government culpable for any which we find not to be electromagnetic.”
Asked if they would continue to buy spectrum at auction, most operators contacted said that they would, but that they would ensure that a rigorous testing regime was put in place to ensure the quality of the product being sold, before opening their wallets. They suggested that it was the regulators that should clean up their act and that operators, who have been encouraged to rely on market forces were the ones who had been taken for a ride. One likened it to having been 'sold a pup when you set out to buy a thoroughbred'. One even went so far as to suggest that there were bigger problems in the supply chain which have been forced upon the whole mobile market by the ever downward spiral of prices.
The University of Bolondok has offered to work with operators to develop a set of agreed quality tests, and present them for ratification at CEPT. The operators have cautiously welcomed this offer but have suggested that it is the regulators who should come clean on their practices rather than operators who are to blame.