Hutchison's 3 UK has decided to opt out of a £150 million (€191 million) project designed to improve mobile network coverage in the UK in a major blow to Chancellor George Osborne, who had championed the project.
The Guardian reported that 3, which has 8 million customers in the UK, is concerned it will not have enough spectrum to deliver a good service, and has delayed its decision to participate until after the LTE spectrum auction, which is not due to conclude until early next year.
The goal of the plan was to build extra cell sites across the UK in order to resolve the problem of "not spots" in rural areas with poor mobile coverage. According to TechWeekEurope, an estimated 6 million people in the UK do not have adequate mobile phone coverage.
The government had hoped to put out a tender contract for construction of the mobile phone masts this month, so that consumers could begin to benefit from improved mobile phone signals in early 2013.
A spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which is overseeing the work, said the contract would be published "in due course."
According to The Guardian, a spokesman for 3 said the company remained engaged with the process. The company is not happy with the design of the LTE spectrum auction because it was not allocated the sub-1 GHz spectrum it wanted. Such spectrum is in high demand by mobile operators because of its strong propagation characteristics.
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