Treasury expected to make £3.5 billion from 4G auction
The UK's Chancellor, George Osborne, stated on Wednesday that the Treasury is expected to make £3.5 billion from the up coming 4G spectrum auction to mobile operators.
While significant, the figure is far below the high prices paid for the 3G spectrum licenses in 2000, which made the UK government more than £22 billion.
However, in his Autumn Statement, Osborne surreptitiously earmarked the 4G auction cash into this financial year, even though the finds are not due to hit government coiffeurs until 2013. The move confused and outraged many, who believe the money should not be spent before it has even left mobile operator pockets.
John Cooke, executive director of the Mobile Operators Association, commented on the government's support of the 4G spectrum auctions, stating: 'Mobile operators support the Government's previous commitment to work with mobile operators, local government and others to consider ways that the planning process might be streamlined to speed up the deployment of mobile infrastructure. We urge government to ensure that these proposals become a reality and that the key contribution of mobile broadband to our national economy is recognised.'
He continued: 'In a country of 60 million people, there are nearly 82 million mobile subscriptions with mobile use at 92%. Mobile broadband is an increasingly important part of the country's digital infrastructure. Four in ten people are already accessing the internet using a mobile device, a proportion that's rising all the time as smartphones become the norm, and as more and more people have tablet computers.
'However, this national infrastructure is built and delivered locally and an efficient and effective planning system is crucial to the mobile operators' ability to keep pace with Government ambition and customer demand. Complying with the current processes represents a significant resource commitment for operators and can be prohibitive in areas where the economic case for investment is already difficult to make,' Cooke concluded.