Ofcom statement challenged by wireless group

BEIRG, the body representing wireless equipment companies, has challenged Ofcom’s latest claims about the resale of surrendered Channel 69 wireless systems. According to BEIRG, it had not been told that Equiniti – the company awarded the supervision contract by the industry regulator – was going to resell surrendered equipment back into the marketplace.

In a statement to MI Pro, an Ofcom spokesperson said: “Following a competitive procurement process, Ofcom appointed Equiniti to manage the Government funding programme to replace channel 69 wireless equipment which is being cleared from this part of the 800 MHz band for future mobile services.

"The majority of any proceeds from sales of equipment is used to offset the cost of the funding scheme, therefore reducing the burden on taxpayers. Any items that are sold are done so clearly on the condition that by 1 October 2012 any UK purchasers either dispose of the equipment under European Waste Electrical and Equipment (WEEE) Directive regulations or convert it to use Channel 38.”

However, a BEIRG spokesman dismissed Ofcom’s explanation. "Why were options such as equipment disposal (destruction) still openly discussed in meetings between BEIRG and OFCOM if equipment re-sale was always planned and was an integral part of the contract? BEIRG has still not been permitted to view the terms of the contract and was not aware of any gainshare clause.

The gainshare clause only came fully to light through BEIRG’s meeting with an Equiniti representative on September 14th 2011. No members of the BEIRG Steering Committee were aware of the gainshare clause previous to this meeting and there is still a lack of clarity here as to what percentage of the monies raised go back to the taxpayer and what percentage goes to Equiniti.

"The re-entry of equipment into the market that could be re-tuned will reduce sales of new equipment for distributors and manufacturers. British manufacturers of PMSE equipment in particular will be disproportionately affected. Who will be responsible for dedicating time and resources to monitor that UK purchasers either dispose of the equipment under European Waste Electrical and Equipment (WEEE) Directive regulations or convert it (if possible) to use in Channel 38 if this actually happens? If a monitoring process has been identified then BEIRG respectfully requests that Ofcom share the details with us. And what about equipment that ends up in other countries?

"BEIRG formally requests that Ofcom does all that it can to ensure that Equiniti extends the moratorium on sales of surrendered equipment until Members of Parliament return from the conference season, in order that the grave concerns expressed within this communication can be fully aired and discussed by all interested parties."