Leadership spotlight: Director of Economic Regulation
In this series we will hear from the Senior Leadership Team at Three about the latest activity across the company and a little about the people behind the projects.
- Name: Luis Lopez Jimenez
- Job title: Director of Economic Regulation
- Function: Legal, Government and Regulatory Affairs
- Tenure: 10 years
Tell us a bit about your background
I studied economics at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, where I got interested in public policy. I completed an MSc in Finance before coming to the UK to join the Office of Fair Trading (the UK’s old competition authority). I moved to telecoms regulator Ofcom before joining Three UK. Over time, I’ve held several roles including Regulatory Manager, Head of Regulatory and Director of Economic Regulation.
Describe your role in a nutshell
The Competition and Regulatory team’s role is to ensure regulation aligns with Three’s growth and financial objectives. We articulate Three’s position on market structure, competition and regulation, lead our bid strategy in high profile spectrum auctions, manage our spectrum portfolio and ensure we stay on the right side of competition law.
Over the years, we’ve worked hard to secure a great spectrum position and knock down regulatory barriers to our growth, such as the UK’s spectrum imbalance, high call termination rates, lack of competition in leased lines or switching rules that made it difficult for Three to win customers. We work closely with other teams at Three to develop and push our position on these issues.
On the financial side, some of our revenues and most of our key costs are regulated (e.g. spectrum licence fees, leased lines, site access and rentals, call termination, roaming, etc). Together with Finance and other teams at Three, our role is to help Three hit its EBITDA and cash-flow targets.
We recently took part in the latest spectrum auction. Were you pleased with how Three fared?
Very pleased. We won what we wanted (2 blocks of 700MHz spectrum) at a fantastic price of £280m. 700MHz will transform our customer experience indoors and in rural areas, as it travels further and penetrates through walls better than other spectrum.
It’s an exciting time to be at Three. With our recent 700MHz acquisition and market-leading 5G spectrum holding, we have all the ingredients we need to deliver the best network experience for our customers.
What is the main ambition of your team for 2021?
2021 is about establishing our 5G leadership and upgrading our 4G network. We want to make 5G rollout easier and cheaper by reforming outdated planning laws and ensuring regulation incentivises widespread fibre deployment by Virgin, Cityfibre, and others. We already have 1,250 live 5G sites and 3,110 sites upgraded to 10Gbps 5G-ready backhaul. Our aim is to help the RAN team deploy many more by the end of the year. Other key priorities for 2021 are to convince Ofcom to adopt pro-investment regulation and articulate our views on the proposed Virgin/O2 merger to the Competition and Markets Authority.