Mobile phone firms on edge as Ofcom prepares to set out plans for 3G auction

Ofcom is poised to set out its plans for the sale of the third generation (3G) spectrum. The telecoms watchdog will release a policy statement this month detailing how the airwaves will be sold, what new services could be introduced and the conditions that will be attached to the new licences.

The auction, which is expected to pitch newcomers to the market, such as Google, against traditional mobile phone operators, including Vodafone, is scheduled to take place this summer, although no date has been set.

Ofcom's earlier plans for the sell-off proved contentious, with disputes over everything from the timing of the award to the auction's rules. The auction has already been postponed after mobile phone companies complained that it was premature and badly conceived.

The regulator acknowledged last summer that the "wide range of issues" raised by telecoms and media companies over the 2.6Ghz spectrum band merited further talks.

Related plans by the watchdog, to allow the big four mobile operators - Vodafone, O2 , Orange and T-Mobile - to use their existing 2G spectrum for 3G services have also provoked controversy. They have not been permitted to offer 3G services on spectrum that was allocated for second-generation use. 3, the next-generation mobile operator, claims that such a move could discriminate against it, given that it paid billions for its 3G licence. It says that the existing second-generation spectrum should be split five ways, allowing it to compete fairly with the established operators. 3 might also push for the traditional operators to be charged for any 2G spectrum that they are allowed to use for 3G services.

The initial sale of 3G licences, at the height of the dot-com boom, attracted bids at unimagined levels.

The operators, convinced that it was make-or-break technology, paid a total of ?22.5 billion during frenzied bidding.

However, after the technology and telecoms market crashed they were left with significant debts and technology that had failed to live up to its promise. One industry executive remarked that the early handsets were hot enough "to fry an egg on".

While 3G was supposed to transform handsets into mini-computers, consumers remained uninterested in using them for anything other than calls and texts.

Only now are more lucrative data services starting to take off, with Vodafone's November results showing that increased internet use on its mobile phones had led to a surge of nearly 50 per cent in the more lucrative data revenues for the mobile phones giant, to ?1 billion in the first half.

The new 2.6Ghz band has become known as the "3G expansion band". However, Ofcom will emphasise that the spectrum is not restricted to mobile 3G, but could be used for other high-tech wireless broadband services such as Wi-Max. Ofcom said that it might also be suited to the next generation of 4G services.

BT has said that it is "very interested" in the spectrum, which could prove useful for the group's push into converged products, such as its combined fixed and mobile phone.

Google is also thought to be seriously considering joining the auction after its much-publicised entry into the mobile phone sector last year. The search giant launched a new operating system for mobile phones called Android. It is also preparing to bid for wireless spectrum at the American Federal Communications Commission auction in January.

The British 3G auction is expected to fetch for the Treasury only a tenth of the amount raised at the last auction in 2000. ( Times )

Most popular transport for visiting Turkey revealed
Most popular transport for visiting Turkey revealed
Turkey reveals volume of cargo transshipment from Moldova through its ports
Turkey reveals volume of cargo transshipment from Moldova through its ports
Turkey reveals volume of cargo transshipment from Georgia through its ports
Turkey reveals volume of cargo transshipment from Georgia through its ports
Loading Bars
Latest
Iran launches mass production of coronavirus diagnostic tests
Coronavirus cases increase in Georgia
Foreign direct investment in Georgia's mining sector increases
U.S. Department of State, USAID providing $1.7M in health assistance to help Azerbaijan
Value of exported products via Astara customs announced in Iran
Azerbaijan's Internal Ministry: Entry, exit from Sheki district restricted (PHOTO)
Coronavirus cases count exceeds 200 in Kazakhstan
Most popular transport for visiting Turkey revealed
Azerbaijan's Internal Ministry: Entry, exit from Gazakh district restricted (VIDEO)
China's success in curbing coronavirus spread affected oil market - Iran's official
Turkey reveals volume of cargo transshipment from Moldova through its ports
Iran opens its first mobile coronavirus lab (PHOTO)
Total amount of donations to Azerbaijan’s Fund to Support Fight Against Coronavirus announced
BP: 3D seismic survey program on Block D230 completed successfully
Iran reveals funds allocated to battle coronavirus spread
Turkey names new minister of transport and infrastructure
Iran's export down since early March
Online supermarket created with help of Azerbaijani Agency for Development of SMEs
Iran talks investments made in Persian Gulf Mining and Metal Industries SEZ
Forecast growth in new solar, wind plants to be wiped out for 2020
Exports of products up in Iran's Isfahan province
Turkey reveals volume of cargo transshipment from Georgia through its ports
Oil price slump could lead to flow of capital towards renewable energy
Production shut-ins amid lower oil prices may be substantial this time
Azerbaijani company begins production of pure alcohol
Gross external debt of Georgia increases
International Investment Position of Georgia down
Iranian currency rates for March 28
Azerbaijan's parliament discloses MPs' coronavirus test results
Iran announces number of wells drilled in oil, gas sector
Azerbaijan’s Salyan District Executive Power announces tender for repair services
Azerbaijan’s Salyan District Executive Power announces tender
Anglo Asian Mining continuing with gold production in Azerbaijan
Iran's president urges for proper implementation of social distancing plan
WB provides additional support to improving efficiency and innovation in Azerbaijan’s judicial system
Outlook for oil market remains bleak in near-term
Kazakhstan increasing furniture, wood imports from Turkey
Armenia violates ceasefire with Azerbaijan 21 times
Coronavirus significantly affects real estate market of Georgia
Iran develops medkits for coronavirus testing
Iran hopes to curb and even eliminate coronavirus spread in upcoming weeks
Iran's housing sales drop due to coronavirus outbreak
Georgian Poti port receives permission for expansion
Georgian TPP receives electricity generating license
Galt & Taggart Investment Bank forecasts possible coronavirus impact on Georgian economy
Review of car re-exports statistics in Georgia
Review of Georgian banking sector external debt
NATO praises Georgia’s efforts against coronavirus
TAP to shape Italy’s gas market in several ways: WoodMac
Australia tightens social distancing rules to combat coronavirus
U.S. COVID-19 cases top 100,000 as deaths surpass 1,500
Number of COVID-19 cases increases in Georgia
Brunei reports first coronavirus death
Mexico registers 717 coronavirus cases, and 12 total deaths
Turkey to cancel all int'l flights over COVID-19 fears
Chile government negotiates bill-paying delay for poor as coronavirus bites
Oman announces 22 new cases of coronavirus, 131 in total
Four passengers die on cruise ship with coronavirus outbreak off Panama
Belgium extends lockdown period until April 18
COVID-19 death toll rises to 12 in Israel
Italy has yet to hit coronavirus peak, lockdown set to be extended
Azerbaijan tightens special quarantine regime
How EU gas markets prepared for coronavirus?
British PM Johnson has coronavirus, self-isolates in Downing Street
Azercell called on Azerbaijanis to show solidarity in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic
43 more test positive for coronavirus in Azerbaijan
Greenfields Petroleum announces agreement to defer payment of its senior secured debt
Azerbaijan’s president signs decree to exempt import of some medical supplies from VAT
Azerbaijan's Azeltech talks difficulties in buying composite materials for production
AZAL talks rules for flights on Baku-Nakhchivan-Baku routes for Azerbaijani citizens
Azerbaijan's logistic company talks reasons for decline in freight traffic volumes
Operation of express buses to airport limited in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan restricts entry/exit from regions
Volume of cargo transshipment through Turkish port of Cesme announced
Azerbaijan's parliament to discuss joining another international document
Azerbaijani MPs to sit no less than 2 meters apart at parliament's session
Current account deficit reaches its historical minimum in Georgia
Volume of cargo transshipment from Slovenia through Turkish ports disclosed
Volume of cargo transshipment from Tunisia through Turkish ports disclosed
Georgia increases imports of chemical products from Turkey
Georgian TBC Bank signs loan agreement with OPEC Fund
BOTAS International Limited reveals volume of oil transshipment from Ceyhan terminal
Volume of loans issued by commercial banks of Georgia decreases
S&P talks Kazakhstan's mitigation of current oil price shock effects
Volume of cargo transshipment from Iran through Turkish ports disclosed
Turkey reveals volume of cargo transshipment from Lebanon through its ports
Volume of cargo transshipment from Libya through Turkish ports disclosed
Volume of cargo transshipment from Romania through Turkish ports disclosed
Azerbaijan reveals volume of cargo transportation by all modes of transport
Turkey reveals volume of cargo transshipment from Algeria through its ports
All ventures to suspend operation in two Kazakh cites to battle coronavirus
Movement of transit trucks ensured in Azerbaijan, says ministry (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Azerbaijan's Emergency Ministry increases number of tents at border reception and sorting points (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Coronavirus cases detected in two more Kazakh regions for first time
Belavia extends flight suspension to Georgia
Azerbaijan launched additional six plants producing medical alcohol, says minister
Weekly review of Georgian capital markets
PM: Azerbaijani state to undertake all required measures to combat coronavirus
Azerbaijan increases building gypsum production
Another provocation of Armenian Armed Forces suppressed: Azerbaijan’s State Border Service
All news