Vodafone calls on the UK to cancel its 5G auction, after costly Huawei ban

Published: 16 July 2020 - midnight

Vodafone has called on the UK’s telecoms regulator, Ofcom, to scrap its forthcoming 5G auction, in the wake of the British government’s decision to ban Huawei from its next generation network infrastructure.

Last week, Vodafone UK’s head of networks, Andrea Dona, said that the company would need to spend “single figure billions” in order to rip and replace Huawei equipment from its networks. Following the UK government’s dramatic U-turn on Huawei’s involvement in the rollout of the country’s 5G networks, Vodafone UK’s chief executive, Nick Jeffery, has called on Ofcom to scrap its forthcoming 5G auction in favour of a less costly alternative.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Jeffery said that his company now wanted the government to step in. Vodafone has previously requested that Ofcom forgo the auction process, in favour of a mandated award system, whereby the spectrum is allocated to operators directly for a fixed cost, believed to be in the region of £1.2 billion.

Following on from the government’s decision to ban operators from working with Huawei, Vodafone UK will ask Ofcom to revisit its proposal.

“Return on investment in telecoms in the UK is amongst the lowest in the world,” the Vodafone UK chief exec told the FT.

“With additional money being taken out of the mobile industry from [Monday’s] decision on Huawei, now is the time to focus on ensuring operators can still afford to invest in the network this country deserves,” he added.

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