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Ofcom ditches proposed mobile spectrum price hike

Original five-fold rises were declared last October.

By Vinod

Ofcom has announced it will no longer be going ahead with new directives, which would have increased the fees paid by the UK’s mobile operators to the government by as much as five times.

A consultation last October had recommended raising the total annual fees paid by the operators, including the likes of Vodafone, EE and O2, for their 2G and 3G radio spectrum licences from £64.4m to £309m annually, raising a huge amount of money for the UK Treasury.

However, Ofcom wrote to all the main operators yesterday confirming it would instead be issuing a new set of proposals for consultation.

"Having considered the evidence submitted by respondents and updated its analysis," a spokesperson from the watchdog said, "Ofcom intends to publish further consultation proposals on mobile licence fees in the summer."

The industry regulator’s volte-face comes after fierce lobbying from the mobile operators, which claimed that the increased expenditure would be damaging to the rollout of 4G networks across the country.

EE, which owns the largest portion of the 2G spectrum, was particularly outspoken in its opposition, saying the new bills were "unjustifiably high".

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Ofcom’s original proposals came after the British operators raised below £2.34bn in a 4G spectrum auction for airwaves to transmit high-speed mobile Internet traffic, as it looked to gain extra revenue from the companies.

The watchdog announced last year that it was hoping to boost the capacity of the UK mobile broadband by more than 25 times by 2030 as part of its plans to ensure the spectrum meets the increasing demands for internet availability.

 

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