Ofcom considers making 3G licences ‘permanent’

1 Dec 2004

The UK’s telecoms regulator Ofcom is reportedly mulling the possibility of giving the country’s 3G licensees an indefinite extension to their UMTS licences, according to The Times newspaper. The proposal to make the licences ‘permanent’ is the first public admission from the regulator that UMTS licensees may have paid over the odds when they collectively stumped up GBP22.5 billion four years ago. The compromise forms part of a deal Ofocm is hatching to allay operators’ fears over its recent decision to auction off additional 3G spectrum cheaply. New UMTS licences could be sold as early as 2007, a revelation which has raised concerns from O2, Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile and 3 that newcomers will be charged only a fraction of what they were required to pay. Under existing arrangements, the incumbent 3G licence holders are expected to hand back their licences in 2021 and re-bid for them.

United Kingdom