Hunt Pleads With Mobile Operators Over 4G Delays

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Jeremy Hunt will advise mobile operators not to challenge the 4G auction in a speech today

Jeremy Hunt, Culture Secretary, will today urge mobile operators not to hold up the roll out of 4G services any longer.

In a speech to the Royal Television Society in Cambridge later, Hunt (pictured) is expected to say that delays  the 4G spectrum auction would harm the country, reports the Daily Telegraph.

“We must press on as quickly as possible with the 4G auction,” he will say, according to the newspaper. “Sweden completed their auction in 2009, Germany last year, Italy is doing theirs this week and France will finish theirs this year. Mobile phone operators must put aside competitive differences and work together in their common – and our national – interest to make this happen.”

Drama queens

Communications regulator Ofcom plans to auction spectrum in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz in the first half of 2012, despite reports of delays and counter-reports that everything is on schedule.

However, almost every mobile operator has criticised the proposed auction prompting fears of disruptive and lengthy legal challenges. The lnaguage from the operators has been dramatic. O2 has already complained that guaranteeing spectrum to the much smaller Everything Everywhere (T-Mobile and Orange) and Three equates to “illegal state aid” while Three described the plan as a “boot on its head” that could force it to wind up its operations.

The bigger broadband picture

The government has set its sights on ensuring nine out of ten people in Britain have access to at least 25MBps broadband by 2015.

And the Daily Telegraph reports Hunt will stress broadband is about more than fixed-line access: “We need to recognise that the future is not simply about superfast broadband – it will be about superfast mobile,” he will say. “We must assume that whether at home or on the move, the devices people use to access the internet will be mobile from now on.”

Today’s speech is shaping up to be an interesting one. Yesterday it was reported that Hunt would use the same speech to press for more assistance from search engines like Google, advertisers and credit card companies in the fight against online piracy.

It is thought that if a court deems a site to be unlawful the government wants search engines to bury it in their rankings in order to stifle traffic while cutting off advertising or payment revenues to make the site unviable.

Meanwhile, Juniper Research said today that mobile operators must increase capacity and optimise backhaul networks in the next five years to cope with the burgeoning demands of mobile broadband users.

According to its new mobile research report, the cost of the work could hit almost $840 billion globally over the next five years but is necessary to address bottlenecks in operators’ backhaul networks.

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