Carriers could see annual license fees increase by up to four times.
UK telecoms watchdog Ofcom has announced a consultation into the revision of annual license fees for mobile network operators. Specifically, these fees would affect operators using the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz spectrum bands, which are used for voice calls, 3G and some 4G services. Ofcom said it was instructed by the government to revise these fees so they reflect full market value. Networks currently pay a combined £24.8 million annually for the 900 MHz spectrum, and £39.7 million for the 1800 MHz spectrum.
To calculate the new licensing payment figures, Ofcom took into account the sums carriers paid in the recent 4G spectrum auction as well as the figures bid in spectrum auctions abroad. The watchdog also looked at the technical and commercial characteristics of the UK spectrum bands. The resulting revised figures would bring the total figure for the 900 MHz spectrum to £138.5 million and £170 million for the 1800 MHz spectrum.
Broken down by carrier, Vodafone and O2 would see their annual license fees boosted from £15.6 million to £83.1 million, while EE (which owns EE, Orange and T-Mobile) would go from £24.9 million to £107.1 million. H3G, operator of 3UK, would see its fees jump from £8.3 million to £35.7 million. Ofcom says subject to this consultation (which closes December 19), the new annual license fees are likely to come into effect in 2014.