UK mobile companies face fee hike

 UK mobile network operators may face a four-fold increase  in licence fees to rent the radio spectrum, under plans unveiled by Ofcom.

Ofcom said that the new fees were in line with what other countries paid, and it thought that the UK operators had been getting off lightly for a long time.

Britain raised a less-than-expected £2.34 billion in a 4G spectrum auction for airwaves to carry high-speed mobile Internet traffic, so it appears that Ofcom is looking to make up the shortfall.

Vodafone, Telefonica’s O2, EE and H3G pay about £64.5 million pounds in total for using the 900 megahertz and 1800 megahertz spectrum bands. Any changes would result in a £309 million increase.

Ofcom said in a statement that spectrum is a valuable and finite national resource, and charging for it can incentivise the optimal use of frequencies.

The telcos can blame the British government for the rent hike.  It asked Ofcom to recalculate the fees to reflect “full market value” and Ofcom said the new rules were expected to take effect next year after a consultation period that ends in December.

The telcos are still reviewing the new bill, but Vodafone has said that it “disappointed” that Ofcom is proposing a 430 percent increase in its fees.

Apparently, it thinks that the regulator should be encouraging such private sector investment in infrastructure and new services like 4G.