Operators will be forced to find a compromise on spectrum by April this year, under plans by communications minister, Lord Carter.
Carter has called a meeting tomorrow (February 12) with the big five mobile operators to discuss how to take forward his plans to bring broadband to all by 2012.
Former Ofcom official, Kip Meek, has been selected by the government to oversee efforts to solve operators’ dispute over spectrum.
Vodafone chief executive Guy Laurence, T-Mobile UK managing director Jim Hyde and 3 chief Kevin Russell will attend the meeting. Ofcom chief executive and representatives from Orange and O2 will also attend.
Carter’s Digital Britain report, which was published at the end of last month, said that Government and Ofcom will consider further network sharing, spectrum, or carrier-sharing proposals from the operators. It hopes to free up greater coverage to assist the role that mobile operators are to play in the universal service commitment.
The Government plans to make more radio spectrum available for next generation mobile services. It also intends to provide ‘greater investment certainty’ for existing 3G operators by encouraging ‘the maximum commercially-sensible investment’, in network capacity and coverage.
At the report’s core is the obligation to provide a minimum of 2Mb/s broadband to everyone, with responsibility distributed equally between mobile and fixed-line providers such as Virgin Media and BT.