The Government has warned the country’s mobile networks not to use legal action to try and delay the auction of 4G spectrum. The UK’s Culture Department said it was important the mobile radio spectrum was released “as soon as possible”.
This came in response to O2‘s claim that the 4G auction was “anti-competitive” under EU law, as it would allow rival operators to grab spectrum under the 1 GHz waveband at a cheaper price. It also claimed that this could cost taxpayers £1 billion.
Both O2 and Vodafone already hold some bandwidth under the 1 GHz range, and Orange and T-Mobile are eager to buy 4G space in the sub-1 GHz range too.
Ofcom published its bidding rules earlier this year, and O2 claimed they would allow competitors to grab the spectrum for £1bn cheaper in total, as those rules are designed to make it easier for all major operators to acquire sub-1 GHz bandwidth for 4G services.
In response, Ofcom said the main objective of its auction was to promote competition rather than maximise revenue for the government. It also claimed that it was in the best interests of companies, customers and taxpayers for the 4G auction to go ahead with no further delays. The Government reiterated this stance.
4G will offer mobile’s speeds close to current home broadband and is currently due to the rolled out in the UK in 2013.