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Ofcom Wales boss says businesses need fast mobile broadband

Tuesday, May 3rd 2011
The technology will help companies in Wales to stay competitive, according to Rhodri Williams.
Ofcom Wales boss says businesses need fast mobile broadband
High-speed mobile broadband services are needed in Wales if businesses in the country are to remain competitive, Rhodri Williams of Ofcom has said.

The telecoms industry watchdog's director for Wales told business leaders at the Cardiff Breakfast Club that the ability to access the web away from the office is essential.

"Being able to do business on the move is a prerequisite of international competitiveness," Mr Williams was quoted by the Western Mail as saying.

Ofcom is currently consulting on an auction of the 800MHz and 2.6GHz frequency bands, he explained, with a view to freeing up more space for super-fast access. This surpasses the amount of capacity sold off at the 3G auctions in 2000, which generated £22.5 billion for the UK economy.

However, the Ofcom chief insisted the sale - which is set to take place in the first quarter of 2012 - has not been organised as a money-spinning scheme for the government.

The body is "more interested in what this can do rather than how much it raises", Mr Williams stated.

He added: "We would expect that it will be used by current mobile operators and possibly new entrants to the market to provide high-speed mobile data coverage."

As well as existing carriers such as O2, T-Mobile and Vodafone, a number of leading telecoms providers - including BT, Sky and Virgin Media - have been tempted to bid for spectrum in the auction with a view to launching their own mobile broadband services.

Phil Kendall, telecoms analyst at Strategy Analytics, said these companies could be tempted to set up consortia and get involved in the sale.

Speaking to Mobile Today, he insisted there is "definitely" enough available spectrum for these major internet service providers to bid for, adding it may make sense for them to have their own mobile networks.

However, he predicted they will need "deeper pockets" if they are to be successful at the auction.

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