Ofcom’s proposal to increase annual licence fees for the 900MHz and 1800MHz spectrum bands in the UK could adversely affect investment in the UK’s 4G services, according to the GSMA.
A consultation into the proposed increases ended on 16th January, with an Ofcom decision expected in the next few weeks. Ofcom wants Vodafone and O2 to each pay an extra £67.5 million per year for access to the airwaves. EE would be asked for an extra £82.2 million and Three for an extra £27.4 million. It says these changes reflect the full market value of the spectrum licences.
Tom Phillips, Chief Regulatory Officer of the GSMA, said “The GSMA is concerned that Ofcom’s proposal to more than quadruple annual licence fees – from £24.8 million to £138.5 million for the 900MHz band and from £39.7 million to £170.4 million for the 1800MHz – will jeopardise mobile operators’ ability to upgrade their networks for 4G services in the UK. According to a recent report by the GSMA, Europe is lagging significantly behind the US in terms of deployment of next-generation wireless infrastructure. 4G represented 19% of US connections compared to less than two per cent in the EU at the end of 2013. However, improvement in 4G deployment can only be realised with long-term investment from the industry. Any lag in 4G roll-out could potentially put UK businesses at an international disadvantage and deny consumers access to the latest mobile services.”
An announcement from Ofcom is expected in the next few weeks.