British telecom regulator Ofcom today said it is planning to review license fees to reflect the additional coverage obligation by UK operators such as Vodafone, EE, Telefonica and H3G.
See live coverage of Mobile World Congress 2015
In a statement, Ofcom said it is now open to considering alternative views before reaching a final decision on the license fee.
Ofcom said that its initial view is that while there could be incremental costs incurred by the mobile operators in meeting the coverage obligation, it is unlikely to have a material effect on the market value of the spectrum.
As part of revising the annual license fee, Ofcom has published a consultation “on whether a new obligation to extend mobile phone coverage agreed by the network operators should affect how much they will pay for their revised annual license fees.”
The last date for submitting suggestions is April 17, 2015.
Ofcom said the provisional revised license fees, subject to consulting on the impact of the coverage obligation on those fees, was £223 million per year — before the coverage obligation is considered. This was 10 percent lower than Ofcom’s earlier proposals in August 2014.
In December 2014, British government and telecom operators agreed to provide geographic voice coverage across 90 percent of the UK. The agreement was implemented through a variation of the mobile network operators’ licenses in January.
In 2010, the Government directed Ofcom to revise fees paid for 900 MHz and 1800 MHz spectrum bands to reflect market value, after the completion of the 4G auction.
The telecom regulator said the market value required under the Government direction should reflect the value to a telecom operator not holding the spectrum at present, as opposed to the value to the operator that currently holds the spectrum, said Ofcom.