Countryside Alliance demands confirmation of 4G schedule

Thursday, December 22nd 2011
Ofcom has been urged to guarantee that the 4G spectrum auction will take place next year.
Countryside Alliance demands confirmation of 4G schedule
Rural campaigners have called on Ofcom to confirm the timetable for the rollout of super-fast 4G mobile broadband across the country.

The regulator is expected to hold the sell-off of additional spectrum to support 4G connectivity at the end of 2012, following a consultation on the terms of the sale in January.

However, the auction has already been delayed and the Countryside Alliance has demanded a guarantee that the current deadline will not slip again, reports Computerworld UK.

Sarah Lee, head of policy at the organisation, issued the call after network operator 3 Mobile launched a new initiative giving residents in the Cumbrian village of Kaber free access to mobile broadband for a year.

Rural communities are just as dependent on broadband as their urban counterparts, Ms Lee insisted.

She said: "It is vital that rural communities and businesses have access to effective and affordable broadband if the digital divide is not to grow even wider.

"It is now time for Ofcom to set down a clear timetable for delivery, because if there are any further delays we will not see 4G until 2015 at the earliest in urban areas."

Locations in the countryside will not be able to benefit from the technology for years after that, Ms Lee added.

Ofcom had initially intended to hold the spectrum auction at the start of next year, but the threat of legal action from O2 regarding some of the terms caused it to be pushed back.

A warning about the matter has been issued by Open Digital, which claimed the delay to the rollout of super-fast mobile broadband services would cost UK businesses 37 million working hours and £732 million per year.

The organisation also estimated that the national economy will lose out on between £183 million and £366 million, meaning the total cost of the delay could be more than £1 billion.

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