The UK is seeing its hopes of being one of the first-mover countries to deploy more advanced mobile data networks, namely LTE and WiMAX, fade as the auction of 2.6GHz spectrum is now not expected to happen until 2011.
The UK originally wanted to auction the spectrum in 2007, but the process has been constantly delayed. The recent delay is attributed to the proposed merger of T-Mobile UK and Orange UK and the possibility that the combined company will exceed spectrum caps even without the new spectrum. The other issue is the decision to auction the 2.6GHz licenses in combination with the digital dividend spectrum in the 800MHz band.
Kip Meek, the government-appointed independent spectrum broker, said during a public forum, according to ZDNet UK, that the outcome of his proposals for the 2.6GHz auction were unclear because of competitors' concerns over the T-Mobile/Orange merger and threatened legal action from British Telecom.
"The government will be considering its response to the consultation paper, [but] that process is taking longer than originally anticipated. They will have to take a view whether, in the dying months of this government, they will want to push through with this particular set of proposals," Meek told ZDNet.
Meek is advocating that Vodafone and O2 receive spectrum in the 800MHz band only if they give up an equal amount of 900MHz spectrum. In addition, the combined T-Mobile/Orange company should only be allowed to bid for limited amounts of spectrum in the 2.6GHz band if they give relinquish some licenses in the 1.8GHz or 2.1GHz bands.
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