Sky mobile network could be on the cards

Reports suggest the TV and Internet provider will buy spectrum from Everything Everywhere to enter the mobile market

Sky may be looking to expand into the mobile market, as reports at the weekend claimed it was in discussions with Everything Everywhere to purchase spectrum.

The Sunday Times wrote yesterday that the company – partly owned by News Corporation – was talking with the firm created from the merger of Orange and T-Mobile about buying up the spectrum it had to relinquish to create the brand.

Everything Everywhere must sell roughly a quarter of its 1800MHz spectrum, which analysts suggest could cost around £400m, if it is to become the UK’s largest operator and adhere to regulators. It began the process in April 2012, using Morgan Stanley to sell the assets, but no bids have been made public yet.

If Sky were to purchase the spectrum, it would bring the company into line with Virgin Media’s four-pronged approached to the market, where it offers TV, phone, internet and mobile services. However, The Sunday Times claimed the cost of setting up its own mobile network could cost Sky in the region of £4bn.

Sky told Computer Weekly that it “regularly [meets] with a wide range of companies to explore and understand potential opportunities”, but would not confirm any specific meetings with Everything Everywhere.

“While we continue to extend our leadership in mobile content, we currently have no plans to offer mobile access beyond our existing public Wi-Fi network,” the spokesman added.

We contacted Everything Everywhere for comment on the reports, but it had not returned our request at the time of publication.

The 1800MHz spectrum owned by the operator is currently at the centre of a public brawl between Everything Everywhere and its rivals over the provision of 4G services in the UK.

The Orange and T-Mobile partnership wants to use its existing 1800MHz allocation to provide 4G before the spectrum for other operators to create such a service is auctioned off at the end of this year – the spectrum was freed up as a result of the television digital switchover.

The plan has received initial approval from telecoms regulator Ofcom, but rival firms Vodafone, O2 and 3 have all spoken out against the deal, claiming it would give Everything Everywhere an unfair competitive advantage.

A final decision has yet to be made, but Ofcom may be taken to court by the other operators if it rules in Everything Everywhere’s favour.

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