5/7/2009 2:16:00 PM
Digital Britain stalled as operators fail to agree for 1 May deadline
Lord Stephen Carter’s plans to bring universal broadband to every UK household have been delayed, after operators failed to agree on spectrum allocation before the 1 May deadline.
Carter announced plans to bring a minimum of 2Mbps to every household by 2012, through a combination of fixed and mobile broadband, in his ‘Digital Britain’ report at the start of this year.
Around 60% of the UK currently has this coverage.
Lord Carter’s advisor, and former Ofcom executive, Kip Meek, is now expected to make a decision on spectrum reallocation by next week (11 May). Carter said in February that Ofcom would impose a solution on the operators if they failed to agree on spectrum allocation.
In March, Ofcom proposed that Vodafone and O2 give up around 15% of their 2G spectrum for universal broadband access. The operators would be required to give up 5MHz each of their 35MHz allocation in the 900MHz spectrum band, which is currently used for 2G, for next generation 3G services.
In April, it emerged that the Government was considering allowing O2 and Vodafone to keep the 900MHz spectrum that they were granted in the 1980s, but could ban them from taking any of the spectrum that will be available when analogue TV is switched off in 2012.
This new ‘digital dividend’ spectrum could be used by everyone in the industry for rural broadband.
The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform said operator discussions were ongoing and a decision from Meek was expected ‘very shortly’.