It seems that the government may have to intervene if UK mobile operators cannot agree between themselves over how the radio spectrum is allocated.
As we all know the government has made a pledge to provide universal broadband to all areas of Britain. A dispute has arisen over the 900MHz section of the airwaves. The government has earmarked this section to provide wireless broadband to rural areas and wants it to be shared out amongst all operators, something that owners Vodafone and O2 are not keen to do.
The whole wireless spectrum was divided between the two operators when they were the only players on the scene, but since new mobile providers have emerged they too would like a part of it to help boost their data services. Whilst 3G delivers a great service it would be even better if it was running on the 99MHz frequency, this is because it has better in-building cover than normal 3G.
UK regulator Ofcom has proposed that a small chunk of the spectrum be handed over to one other operator. It has warned that a solution may be imposed if the mobile operators cannot hammer out an agreement by the end of April. Steve Blythe, head of spectrum strategy at Orange, explained how the firm views the issue. "This has been a long standing problem. Unlike other European countries, where there has been some level of redistribution of spectrum, the UK government hasn't yet taken the opportunity to do that," he said. "900Mhz is key for our mobile broadband ambitions and to ensure a level playing field. If it isn't released O2 and Vodafone will have considerable cost advantages,"
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