Ofcom could hike network fees next year

Oliver Smith
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MOBILE operators could see the annual fees they pay to use radio spectrum increase 400 per cent, according to a proposal from Ofcom yesterday.

The fee increase could lead to higher mobile phone bills if operators decide to pass on the increases to consumers. Ofcom plans to hike the bill for 1800Mhz frequencies from £40m to £170m, and for the 900Mhz range from £25m to £139m.

The regulator said it had considered the amounts paid at the 4G auction and compared them to the amounts bid at overseas auctions as part of a review started in 2010 when the government asked Ofcom to consider whether the fees reflect the full market value.

Vodafone hit out at the increase as a disappointing distraction at a time when network operators should be investing in infrastructure.

“The regulator should be encouraging such private sector investment in infrastructure and new services like 4G, which will benefit consumers, businesses and the wider British economy for many years to come.”

Ofcom said the new fees could come into effect next year following a consultation on the increase.