The British government’s plans for providing fast broadband internet connection to each and every British household by 2012 — in part by extending mobile broadband licenses to incumbent mobile operators — have caused some concern at BT. BT said yesterday it could even take legal action against the government if it goes ahead with its plans.
BT sent a “letter before action” to the business secretary Lord Mandelson, in which the company took issue with the idea that the available wireless spectrum licenses be extended to incumbent mobile operators without a spectrum auction.
A spokesperson explained: “BT believes that the proposals gift large value of spectrum to the incumbent mobile operators without any real provision to promote new entry or competition. Extending the 3G licences (twelve years before they expire) without a full auction is a large subsidy to mobile operators, at the expense of the tax payer, and is unfair to other investors in the communications market.”
The representative continued, “The proposed spectrum caps risk a carving up of new and existing spectrum between the existing mobile operators with no real provision for new entry. BT believes that a full and open consultation should be held on these proposals and will press for significant changes to be made in order to address the areas of concern.”
The representative went on to say that BT is calling for the contracts to be auctioned off in a way that stimulates competition in the market for both existing operators and new entrants.