Ofcom has scaled back its plans to increase the licence fees paid by UK mobile networks for the 900MHz and 1800MHz spectrum bands initially used for 2G and 3G services. It previously proposed increasing overall charges paid by the ‘big four’ mobile network operators from £39.7 million for the 1800MHz spectrum up to £170.4 million.
It’s now suggesting a total of £137.5 million for 1800MHz spectrum. For example, Vodafone would see its annual fee for 900MHz and 1800MHz frequencies increasing from £15.6 million to £65.8 million rather than £83.1 million.
A new consultation period ends on 26th September, with new charges likely to be implemented next year.
The GSMA criticised the scale of the previous proposals, saying the extra cost threatened the rollout of 4G technology in the UK.
Philip Marnick, Group Director of Ofcom's Spectrum Group, said “We expected substantial responses to our initial proposals, which are based on complex analysis. We’ve listened carefully to the arguments and evidence put forward during the consultation, which has helped refine our proposals. We’re conducting a further consultation to ensure we reach an appropriate view about the best approach to setting the annual licence fees. We expect to publish our final decision on mobile licence fees around the turn of the year.”
Ofcom introduced its initial plans following a government directive to revise spectrum fees so that they reflected full market value. It’s now calculating this value in a different way, which is why the totals have fallen.