Mobile network operators should put aside their competitive differences and work together for the national good, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said last night.
Speaking to the Royal Television Society in Cambridge, Clegg said the future was not just about superfast broadband – it was about superfast mobile.
He said the volume of mobile internet data was trebling each year, and would rise 26-fold by 2015.
“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,” he said.
He wanted to see Britain “in the fast lane” of this trend.
This meant a speedy completion of the auction of 800MHZ and 2.6GHz frequencies, the so-called 4G spectrum, which, as first reported by Mobile, Ofcom has delayed by three months to 2Q2011.
Clegg said: “We must press on as quickly as possible with the 4G auction. 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.”
Clegg said he wanted to streamline access to spectrum by small companies by better allocation, management and trading of spectrum.
He was also determined to find out why there is so little cheap mobile TV in the UK, despite the long-standing availability of standards such as 1-seg.
This had led to mobile TV in Japan, Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Chile, but not the UK, despite a lack of perceptible regulatory barriers.