January 26, 2017
Mobile operators will be allowed to keep their 3G licences indefinitely if they agree to new spending plans outlined by communications minister Lord Carter.
The offer is designed to placate concerns that a universal obligation to provide every home with 2Mbps broadband would be too expensive for the telecoms industry.
Two-megabytes-per-second is fast enough to watch videos on BBC iPlayer.
Currently, only 58% of UK households have broadband access, many of these with download speeds under 2Mbps.
Industry estimates put the cost of reaching 99.5% of the population with 2Mbps broadband at between £1 billion and £2 billion.
The responsibility for this bill falls with internet and mobile companies – and they are reluctant to spend the money.
In 2000, five operators paid £22.5 billion for 20 year 3G licences to carry 3G mobile internet.
Lord Carter hopes that not having to renew these licenses will be the incentive mobile operators need to support his proposals.